American Psycho

Mary Harron's film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel, American Psycho, frequently hits the mark, thanks to leading man Christian Bale.

<i>American Psycho</i>
American Psycho

American Psycho

D: Mary Harron (2000); with Christian Bale, Chloë Sevigny, Samantha Mathis, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe.

A lot of questions arose during the making of this film. Would it capture the morbidly keen concepts presented by Bret Easton Ellis' novel? Or, would audiences suffer through another watered-down serial killer movie? Luckily, Harron's adaptation of Ellis' story frequently hits the mark, thanks to her leading man. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street executive in the Eighties who spends much of his time securing dinner reservations, hanging at trendy bars, and alternating time between his girlfriend and mistress. When he's not involved in social activities, he works out diligently and indulges in the finest of cosmetic products. Oh yeah, he likes to kill folks, too. He can't help himself. Despite having a great job and awesome apartment, he loves to torture women and to mutilate anyone who annoys him. Blame this sadistic nature on a quest for an identity. After all, he looks and dresses like all of his friends, many of whom can't remember his name. He's a corporate carbon copy, but his sterile wit and nerdy grin make him a semi-sympathetic villain. The overall translation of Ellis' book is competent but tame in comparison to the original story's graphic violence. Bale does his best to keep the film completely afloat, but it's not enough to prevent it from losing a degree of energy. Despite sets and wardrobe that accentuate the book's soulless vibe, the actors seem to be portraying parodies. It's almost as if they're peripheral characters in a John Hughes movie. Minus these subtle errors, American Psycho is watchable and at times, admirable. Considering Hollywood's penchant for bad serial killer dramas (The Cell, Along Came a Spider), this effort is a numbing but welcome change of pace.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Screens Reviews
2023 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: The Best of the Brief
2023 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: The Best of the Brief
Before the Academy votes, we pick our faves from the nominees

The Screens Staff, Feb. 17, 2023

What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 22, 2019

More by Mike Emery
Video Reviews
Cry-Baby is definitely one of the better Fifties flashbacks, thanks to Waters' flair for visuals and a vivid memory of the Eisenhower era.

Aug. 3, 2001

Video Reviews
POKéMON 2000 Pokémon 2000 review
A tale that's difficult to watch, much less comprehend

March 2, 2001


American Psycho, Mary Harron, Bret Easton Ellis, Christian Bale, Chloë Sevigny

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle