heard it about it on new years eve 2010 or rather , maybe, it finally came into my consciousness . i'd seen the ads and promo shots but didn't understand its influences, or recognise implanted inferences, on our 21st century western zietgeist.
a deeply gatsbyan lesson, american psycho lets irony stage its grand ballet on the fronts of business cards while absurdity stays tightly bound in theatrical makeup. i found my attention constantly commenting on the detail to the mask throughout most of the movie. the protaganist, philip bateman( a nod to hitchcock) is scrubbed with organic compounds to better preserve frail skin, then draped in the finest tailored silk suits. silk, because linen wrinkles. his morning ritual to vessel is as detached as the voice-overs describing his state of mind-- sampled in the film's first five minutes when bateman says to a barmaid "You're a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood." her silent mask of service is so entirely devoid of any reaction, i turned to my companion and asked "did he just say that outloud?" a question which must become the character's by the movie's third act.
i'm using theatrics as analog because staging is a central theme. from the scocietally-matchmade psuedo fiance to the random victim/ homeless man each role is a perfectly coifed caricature. five- star staged food is the screen shot as the dialog opens. the film-making was nominated for an award but not the makeup. too bad. the makeup of every character-even bit parts and walk ons- is perfect but heavy. faces used as canvas reinforces the puppetesque. a nostalgiac look at the most recent excesses of the last is a fitting way to open the century, especially with such a gorgeous stage.
the 1980s, in which this movie is set, was a period of excess for the rich. when isn't it a period of excess for the rich, you may ask. ok, fair enough. it's always a period of excess for the rich. so, i suppose by using the 80s, the film was claiming a fair amount of distance from the events. yet the feel was only distant within a technological standpoint: bateman's repeated excuse of "i have to return some movies" ; the huge walkie talkie mobile phones of the best connected; the location and use of a pay phone (definitely an endangered if not extinct species) by a wall street executive all serve to give period to what is, in essence, a timeless malaise. what makes this version different from, say, walter mitty's or gatsby's is ...well....the trappings. the stage. perhaps a sense of irony in that each of the characters seems to understand that they are playing a role, and most embrace that role with the fervor of the faithful. bateman's is the sole character to whom we have intimate access and he has , as he states to his victims and in the voice overs, ""no empathy with you". this theme is echoed again and again , in all the characters. they seem to have no empathy with even themselves.
the movie won the international horror guild's best of 2001. its horror exsists not in cheesy fake- blood splattered scenes but in the tableaus in the men's club over discussions of dinner reservations and in the making of amateur porn movies with a threesome for hire. its horror lies in, as the title states, the nature of pyschosis--american style.
well this is supposed to be a review, not a thesis. i give it five stars. definitely worth the watch. watch it again if you've seen it before. it's timeless.