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American Psycho

No introduction necessary. 

Year: 2000 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Mary Harron 
Starring: Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe 
An image from American Psycho

Review:

American Psycho is a flawlessly acted piece of cinema that constantly demands the audiences’ attention and remains in their mind for days afterwards nagging them to watch it again even if just to make sense of its insanity. It is a film that cannot be pigeon holed in any clearly defined category, moving at lightning speed from moments of extreme violence and horror to scenes of unexpected comedic value.

The movie follows Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a successful Wall Street investment banking executive who leads a secret life as a sex obsessed serial killer. Although the story of a seemingly normal man who is not what he seems might not immediately strike you as anything special, it is a unique and original film for so many reasons. Firstly, it stands out simply for the extremity of violence on display featuring one particularly disturbing scene with a homeless man and his dog. Satire is also a big part of American Psycho. Patrick and his colleagues’ lifestyles are exaggerated and mocked to the point that it transforms into a comedy at times. We see Patrick in his extreme superficiality almost faint when looking at another man’s superior business card.

Perhaps the main decider of how good this movie would be was the choice of actor for the lead role and Christian Bale is exceptional. He is able to show Bateman’s ridiculous narcissism and self-obsession in comedic yet disturbing ways and when portraying his murderous alter ego, he is completely terrifying.

American Psycho has the rare combination of great directing, writing and acting and I would recommend it strongly to anyone.

Matthew Kent

Patrick Bateman (Bale) is a rich, successful businessman living in 1980s New York, whose mask of sanity is slowly slipping. He drags himself through his days in the office, working in mergers and acquisitions and spending most of his time out at lunch with fellow vice presidents. By night he expresses his frustration and contempt for the world by turning to the more grisly business of murders and executions.

Bale delivers a stellar and haunting performance, highlighting the arrogance, superficiality and madness of Bateman’s character. The supporting cast create a rich slice of yuppie culture; their drools over designer business cards sum up the era beautifully. They are complimented by an 80s soundtrack you would be embarrassed to have in your music collection and an overdose of cheesy settings and costumes that bring the decade to life.

The clever script, a faithful adaption of Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial book, makes the film both shocking and hilarious at the same time. Harron manages to turn American Psycho’s world of madness into thought-provoking material, with a delicate balance of disturbing, frantic violence and clever satire.

American Psycho certainly provides plenty of food for thought to keep you busy. It creates a complex story with multiple interpretations; is it the tale of a vicious serial killer or a man consumed by his madness whose brutal killings only exist in his mind? Essentially though, the film is a brilliant commentary on the decadence, shallowness and self-absorbed nature of American yuppie society. This film is highly recommended for those in search of a challenging film that will have you considering the possible consequences of listening to too much Phil Collins or Huey Lewis and the News!

Julia Huntenburg

Archive

When Bret Easton Ellis' novel 'American Psycho' was published in 1991 it provoked more than a little controversy. The use of sickening and gratuitous violence and torture raised many protests, a large proportion of which were sparked through fears of a 'copy-cat' crime. Nine years later the film caused a similar stir...

Set on Wall Street in the 1980's, the story focuses on Patrick Bateman; respected business man by day, psychopathic serial killer by night. An average day for Bateman starts with him toning his body, cleansing his skin and listening to cheesy 80's pop-music; it ends with a murder. Whether it be a prostitute or loathed colleague, Bateman displays a complete indifference towards human life and is more concerned with his image and social status as a banker.

Although quite repulsive in parts 'American Psycho' is not quite the bloodbath that it could so easily have been. Instead this film is essentially a satire of a superficial, status-obsessed society whose greatest evil is not Patrick himself (or even the nauseating activities in which he indulges) but the fact that no-one could care less.

Sophie Robinson

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Screenings of this film:

2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Autumn Term (35mm)
2013/2014 Autumn Term (35mm)
2017/2018 Autumn Term (35mm)