Embodying this rotten excuse for a human being (but absolutely brilliant character), is british actor Christian Bale. Many knowledgeable people with exquisite taste consider this to be his best performance so far, and with good reason: every single fiber of his being is 100% committed to the role, going through the astonishing full-metamorphosis that has now become the actor’s trademark.
But even though he deserves every praise, it would be unfair to make his work larger than the film itself. Working together with Guinevere Turner, Mary Harron wrote one great adaptation of Ellis’s novel, fully capturing the essential elements of Bateman’s world and cleverly adapting scenarios, characters and situations to fit the demands of film format — and all of this while balancing its opposite facets of horror and comedy, keeping the perfect tone throughout. I’d say it’s pretty close to perfection.
Even though you haven’t read the novel, you knew, going in, that American Psycho was not strictly a horror film, but rather a satire. Was it hard to find the humour in it at first? And how do you think these two seemingly opposite genres balance each other in the movie?
Well, I think both genres blend in with each other pretty well, and when the writer/producer knows how to handle things, it can work out pretty nicely. Most of the times, I think, it was more of a black comedy with a rocambolesque tone mocking the environment which surrounded the plot and the protagonist, with the quick change of places showing how so many different “worlds” lived side by side in the same area, and how people change too, as they changed places (from the office to the clubs, from the elegant restaurants to home). But I think that while the movie developed in this way, in the end it leaned more towards a dramatic sort of apotheosis showing the results of this dangerous masquerade (his and that of the society around him).
When it first came out, Ellis’s novel (and the film, to some extent) was subject to negative criticism and a lot controversy – from its (alleged) gratuitous violence and sex, to being completely devoid of substance. Do you find any reason in these claims?
I guess there are always those easily-offended ones who will overlook the whole work as something bleak because of some descriptive violence and sex that may go a bit out of their comfort zone and, depending on the level of sensitivity of the person in question towards this, it may lead to negative critics. However, it is important, I think, to not let that after-taste blind our judgement of the work to such point as stating that it is devoid of substance; there certainly is a lot of substance to this story and although each of us is entitled to his/her opinion about that, we should at least consider everything in the book/movie before claiming it as something solely sexual and violent.
And don’t you think it is curious that even though we remember the movie as being extremely violent, there isn’t any actual violence on screen? Because the camera is always focused on Patrick.
Though we are not shown the people he is beating, there is more than the mere suggestion of the action actually (there are the noises, the blood smeared on and around him, and every now and then a victim sprawled on his/her back lying in a pool of blood), so if on one hand the camera focusing on him softens the scene a bit, on the other it may be enough for those easily-offended ones to have somehow a right to argue… I think those scenes were well thought out though, because that’s just what the movie is aiming for, to make you understand Patrick’s insane brutality, while not actually willing to show you the gruesome part, because that’s not the point, it is not a gore movie afterall…
No, it really isn’t, thank god. Alright, standard but fun question: what’s your favorite thing about American Psycho?
The fact that we are led to think that Patrick is the insane one, but in the end you just realize that everyone is insane in their own way, actually! To different extents, of course. He is just the culmination of that, but we understand that he must not be the only one, surely. Because it is a rotten society, and he is just another product from it, as basically everyone is… His fellow workers, the homeless guy he killed in the street, they are all victims of the society they live in, even though they may not realize it.
I was hoping you said Bale’s abs, but okay… Finally, the big question: is Patrick a serial-killer, or was it just all in his head?
Haha, that is something that I am still trying to sort out and make my mind about… I think it is more reasonable to think that it is all in his head, or say, that he is a killer (gone looney) only “in his heart” (I mean, the police would not just dismiss him after following him home with helicopters and everything, right?). But on the other hand, I noted the woman in Paul’s apartment wearing a white cloak as she turned when he walked out of the house. And that set me thinking: “what if those things were a bit in his head, yes, but he actually committed some, or the people around him (his secretary for example) started noticing his odd behaviour as he slowly lost the ability to fake, and reported him to the police who got him in a mental hospital, in which he is hallucinating and dreaming about his everyday life?” I guess I am left to wonder…