American Psycho

January 5, 2013

 

American Psycho wonderfully satirizes the world of Masters of the Universe – investment bankers who feel omnipotent by being able to get “rez”s at Darcia on moment’s notice. It is a good thing that this film was adapted and written by two women. They take their keen eye toward status and social conformity and expose the ridiculous herd mentality, even of the upper crust proletariat and their identical AmEx’s on the restaurant bill’s tray, and drink choice at the club. In one scene, the comparison of business cards and the anxiety of all the young Veepees of being outdone is a top-rated cinematic moment, relishing the base instincts found in the boardroom. You can take the animal out of the wilderness, but you can’t take the wilderness out of the animal.

The most anxious of the bunch, and the central protagonist, is Patrick Bateman. He is glowingly narcissistic, even taking precious film time to explain his morning beauty ritual and is disgruntled when his face is touched. Yet behind his vain veneer is a psychopathic personality. He even admits it himself: he has no emotions but predation. We can disregard how a cypher such as him could become so successful so quickly without stumbling along the way with his malady – it is completely plausible that the film only captures the amplification of his predatory thirst, and that his younger self could cope with meds. Now, however, we are dealing with a character who wants to violate the world as a therapeutic exercise.

His outlandish violence amongst the superficiality of his cohorts acts almost as an aquatic mammal rising above water to reach for air. It gives him an opportunity to take off his thrice lotioned and balmed skin care mask and be himself. Whereas downstairs, dressing in Valentino and showing up to work to justify his expense account, he is a masterful actor. It must be exhausting for him to pretend to care about anything.

And yet, why does he? Why does he make an effort to live if it is such a burden? Or is it a burden? He certainly has ample opportunities to indulge in his world, through typical hedonic leisurely activities. But apparently it is not enough. Apparently destruction, obliterating the theatre he must perform in, provides a sense of satisfaction as well as retribution.

Grade: A-

 

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