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American Psycho

james hörner

considering the hype that has surrounded this film since the early rumours (David Cronenberg was trying to develop it for the screen, later Oliver Stone was set to direct it with Leonardo di Caprio as the lead...) i wasn't sure what i was in for. i had seen Mary Harron's last film I Shot Andy Warhol, liked it, but had no idea how she would convert the difficult Bret Easton Ellis novel to the screen.

American Psycho movie poster cutting to the chase, the film is humourous and true to the book. that was one of the things i think a lot of people were afraid of in seeing this book be filmed. American Psycho is a very funny, yet extremely graphic, book. there was no way any filmmaker could have been true to the book's violence and get anything less than an x rating. Harron focuses more on the wit of Patrick Bateman and his neurotic life instead of the killing, most of which you don't even directly see.

i think this works effectively. as a portrait of a successful young psychopath in the 80s, this film is great. the dialogue, much of which is right out of the book, is well chosen and representative. the decision to balance the characterization of Pat Bateman between his normal life and his killing desires is perfect. the movie certainly isn't a bloodbath or special effects masterpiece. that isn't to say this is kid's stuff. the scenarios leading up to the violence are often troubling, and are disturbing when contrasted with the humour of the character.

Christian Bale is excellent as Patrick Bateman. he has the looks and body to capture the self-absorbed nature of the character. his voice is chilling and subdued, and i really couldn't imagine better casting. frankly, if di Caprio had gotten the lead this movie would have sucked. that lanky twit could not have evoked the subtle aggression and loathing that Bale is capable of.

the soundtrack is a trip into the 80s and it is hilarious to watch Bateman pontificate deeply on such artificial pop music as Huey Louis or Whitney Houston, all the while laying out his murderous plans. the monologues, however, are backed by John Cale's compositions which consciously highlight the darker tones of the film.

in all honesty i don't see what all the fuss was about. i think the controversy that surrounded the arrival of the book immediately brought a similar negative spotlight to the film. however, if the version we get here in canada is the 'unedited' version, i'd really hate to see what over-edited pablum our friends to the south are being made to watch. there is very little nudity, not that much gore, and i think it is mostly the connection made between sex and death that is bothersome to the censors. hollywood likes lots of both, just not at the same time, apparently.

lion's gate films

james hörner edits canadian content

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