13 October 2001 | grendel-37
A film that teeters between Miracles and Mania
Having just finished American Psycho, I came to IMDB to get some clarification on the ending. And it seems I'm not the only one left vaguely adrift by the ambiguous ending.
I've browsed some of your comments, not all 400+ to be sure. But some of them. A good sampling I think, and this movie has three distinct cheering sections.
Those who consider it a masterpiece, those who consider it unredeemable, boring trash, and by far the largest segment, those who see it as a flawed masterpiece.
I fall into the latter category. And no, I did not read the book. But as others have stated any movie that requires you to read the book, to "get" the movie, is ultimately a failure as a movie.
So my review is based solely on the merits of the film. And contrary to what some have said, the film does have many merits. I found it brilliantly directed, and a superbly acted examination of excess, and boredom, and evil. An examination, satire, critique of a time, and type of thinking.
Even before seeing the ending, I thought how much bateman lives in people. Found myself thinking, an examination of bateman is an examination of men by the name of Reagan and Bush. How American Psycho is an examination of our times, and our modern theologies.
I found the movie as a whole riveting, loved the restraint shown (and disagree with those calling for more gore, I think Mary should be applauded for her deft hand, the scenes have more power for what is not shown), and was captivated by nearly every scene, by scenes others have called boring, but I found profound.
Bateman putting on his makeup, or simply trying to get a restaurant, and the near apocalyptic importance, such minutiae makes in the lives of empty men. The right card, or the right cloth, or the right table, or the right watch, how these are the signposts of an empty age and an empty soul, and how these things have more value than your fellow man... or woman.
Bateman attains everything the materialistic times tells him he should want, but once he gets it he feels nothing. Emptier than before, less than before. It's only in the extremes of his addictions he begins to feel something, anything. He feeds to fill the emptiness, but the more he feeds the emptier he gets. He eats at his fellowman (woman) but in his bloodlust he eats at himself.
He is the American dream, taken to its cannibalistic extremes.
And never before has makeup, played such a mesmerizing part in a movie. Bateman's(Chris Bale's) face at times when he is under stress, takes on a plastic look, a glossy, sweaty sheen, and for all the world it looks like he's wearing a mask... and the mask, his mask of sanity, is beginning to run.
Simply amazing use of makeup. And incredible performance by the lead actor. I wasn't familiar with him before this, but everyone will be after this.
Upon first hearing about this movie, I had no desire to see it. I've grown up since the age of Hills Have Eyes and trash like The Beyond, watching people suffer no longer seems significant. I guess as we get older we ask more of our art than springer, or the WWF, or slasher flicks. We ask of our art to tell us something true. Something of ourselves, and our world.
I think American Psycho under the deft hand of Mary Harron becomes more than my prejudices, and exceeds my expectations. Rises at times to dizzying heights not unlike art.
Mary's restraint makes this movie. But I fear her restraint nearly sinks it as well. The ending is too ambiguous. Who is Bateman in the end. Is there a Bateman? And what did he do or did not do?
In the end,the movie will nag at you. Did he or didn't he? And in the end, now that I write this I'm thinking maybe the answer doesn't really matter, maybe in the end the answer is the same. In the end a sin of thought, or a sin of action, is still a sin. In the end we are left with a man, and a nation... whose mask is slipping.
I think like the first Psycho, time will prove this one.... worthy. I now add Mary Harron to the small selection of modern directors I will tiptoe through broken glass to see. Directors like Dave Fincher(Seven, Fight Club), Carl Franklin(Devil in a Blue Dress), Johnny To(Expect the Unexpected), Ringo Lam(Full Alert, Victim), M. Night Shyamalan(Sixth Sense, Unbreakable), and Peter Weir(Fearless).