Funny thing how perception of what a film is supposed to be alters your view of it. When I saw Mary Harron’s American Psycho in 2000, I thought the picture was supposed to be a serious thriller about a serial killer. It’s not that.
When it didn’t match the genre wheelhouse I expected it to adhere to, I wasn’t sure how to react to what I’d just viewed. Not until I fully realized that American Psycho is meant to be a biting satire about 80s excess and materialism did I appreciate just how terrific the movie is.
I had a similar reaction to 1999’s Fight Club, which I certainly didn’t think was going to be more of a dark comedy than anything else. I’ve grown to love it.
Same with American Psycho. The film is special for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Christian Bale’s absolutely stunning performance as Patrick Bateman, a NYC investment banker in the late 80s who is absolutely bonkers crazy.
The picture, based on the Bret Easton Ellis bestseller, portrays Bateman as a power hungry man who cannot handle that there’s people who have more power than he does. He has a meltdown when a colleague shows him a new business card that Patrick believes to be superior to his own.
I won’t go over all the plot details of American Psycho. I will say that if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on the career best performance of Bale. And, yes, I’ve seen The Fighter and The Dark Knight trilogy.
There are three scenes in Psycho that demonstrate the brilliance of Bale’s character to hilarious effect. They involve Bateman offering his critical take on the musical careers of Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and the News, and Phil Collins/Genesis. All major artists in the late 1980s. All three sequences cut together are in the link below.
Bale’s performance is something to behold in these sequences. His acting coupled with the fabulous writing here make these scenes quite memorable. I have always loved how profound Bateman thinks he’s being when he extols the virtues of Whitney’s “Greatest Love of All” and compares Phil Collins’ solo work to his group work in Genesis. This is a man (a crazy one) who truly feels that all of his words are enlightening.
American Psycho has moments of true hilarity and these scenes are the prime example of them. Christian Bale is perfect in this role and his monologues on three popular 80s performers is Movie Perfection. Enjoy!