Wednesday 16 March 2011

American Psycho

Everyone has embarrassing gaps when it comes to movies they’ve seen. Sure, I’ve seen Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, Outlander and Casablanca – but I’ve never seen Brief Encounter. Anyway, for this week’s article, I thought I’d catch up with a movie that has – until now – eluded me. American Psycho.

American Psycho introduces us to a new character: Patrick Bateman. Patrick is a highly successful investment banker in his mid-twenties. We start with a long sequence in which he bangs on about the importance of looking good, in an effort to impress the ladies. Straight away, we’re on familiar ground – this is going to be another movie, with another bunch of characters trying to make it with ladies. At least, that’s how you think it’s going to be, but then comes the twist.

Bateman and his buddies go out partying, drinking and doing coke. Going on my original research (Motley Crue lyrics) this is pretty much exactly what the eighties were like. As a period piece, American Psycho is flawless.

Anyway, after a few scenes of Patrick Bateman partying around, the movie takes a turn for the unexpected with a gory axe-murder. I mean, we expected bodily fluids flying around, sure – that’s a staple for these movies, but they’ve never been so...well...brutal before.

Of course, the comedy is still there, albeit a slightly different sort. It’s a much more sardonic and drier style of wit than its predecessor. The first movie's gags were much more in-your-face, and more typical American comedy fare, whereas this movie's sense of humour reeks of sarcasm and satire. It’s a welcome change, but I can’t help but feel that it may alienate some fans of the first movie.

There is sex in American Psycho, but it’s not really the focus, which was somewhat unexpected. It was the driving force of the first movie, and so it feels a little odd for American Psycho to have taken the franchise in such a radical direction.

Anyway, Bateman goes on his crazy rampage of axe wielding homicides and Huey Lewis and The News CDs, before killing one too many people...before the big twist ending, which I am – of course – not going to give away here.

There is one major problem with American Psycho, though. Whilst a great movie in its own right, none of the characters that we know and love make an appearance. Bateman’s a sick motherfucker, that is true, but he’s no Stifler. Willem DeFoe’s slighty-creepy detective Donald Kimball is a great performance, but he’s a poor substitute for Eugene Levy's as Jim’s Dad.

American Psycho is a solid film in and of itself, but by taking the franchise in such a radical direction, it may alienate a few too many of the people who loved the original. I can only hope that the final movie in the trilogy – American History X – will answer any questions.

Words: Brad Harmer

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