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Home > American Psycho (2000): A Deeper Look

American Psycho (2000): A Deeper Look

American Psycho

Leaving Audiences With More Questions Than Answers

23 years after its release, American Psycho, directed by Mary Harron, still amasses a cult following due to many elements of the film. This film marks Christian Bale’s big break in Hollywood for his portrayal of Patrick Bateman, the rich Wall Street banker who leads a double life in the night. The main character has been deemed “iconic” as he navigates the fine line separating his two very different lives. Many viewers also appreciate the ironic tone towards the capitalistic system and the privileged elite within the system, finding it comical yet truthful to how the systems in place affect everyone in it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this movie. Overall, American Psycho is mainly known for evoking more questions rather than answers at the end of the movie, leaving people scratching their heads and going, “Huh?” Dead Talk News is at your service to help gain some clarity past the blood-stained sheets and rising body count. Fair warning though, there will be spoilers in this article!

The Idea Behind It All

Before diving into the movie itself, it’s important to understand the driving force that inspired its creation. Before it was known among the masses as the iconic film it is today, the title American Psycho was associated with the controversial novel that the movie is based on. Written by Bret Easton Ellis, it was published in 1991 and is told in first person through the eyes and ears of serial killer Patrick Bateman himself. Due to its dark and gruesome tones and visuals of violence, the novel gained a lot of negative reception in the United States, with many mainly criticizing the glorification of violence and murder. The novel garnered much infamy not just from the United States, but also on a global scale. In Australia, it was sold shrink-wrapped and could not be sold to anyone under 18 years old. Furthermore, the novel was classified as “harmful to minors” in Germany, and there were laws severely restricting any marketing and sales to the public from 1995 to 2000. Ellis received an ample amount of death threats and hate mail after the novel’s initial release, yet the novel did not kill his writing career as he would go on to write five more novels, with his most recent one being published in late January of 2023. However, it is agreed that American Psycho is his most notable and most successful novel, with the help of the cult classic’s popularity. 

American Psycho

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A Peek Inside the Mind of Patrick Bateman

There certainly can be a lot to be said about the way the black comedy incorporates satire with the thought-provoking themes that serve as an undertone throughout the film. The main theme that director Mary Harron makes sure to hit the nail on is capitalism and consumerism in society. American Psycho tackles the social topic of how society and the capitalist system can be debilitating to a person mentally and emotionally through the internal struggle of Patrick Bateman. His homicidal tendencies trying to coexist with the normal aspects of his life (even though he hates it) is a representation of the struggle between human nature vs. conformity. Specifically at the beginning of the movie, Patrick is talking to his fiancée (whom he hates), and he harshly snaps at her when she questions why he does things he does not enjoy with the line, “I want to fit in.” His attempts to conform to society include going out with friends he cannot stand, working a high-paying job he should be content with but isn’t, and even with the way he talks about specific music with other people like he’s reading from a review. His line at the beginning of the movie also foreshadows just how far he’ll go to try and live both lives, even when his nightly activities and sanity go to the deep end. At the end of the movie, he ends up confessing to his lawyer after a big, public killing spree and his friend later about his horrifying crimes, yet he isn’t held accountable like he wanted to be as everyone tells him that none of those things ever happened. It leaves Bateman desperately wondering just how insane he really is. It leaves him spiraling even more as he tries to discern what was real and what was not, speaking to just how his life and mind within the capitalist system has been drastically impacted. He wanted catharsis and was left with more feelings of hopelessness and isolation, which can be attributed to how the systems in place treat those within it.

American Psycho is a thought-provoking film with perfectly weaved-in satire and irony to balance out the content and emphasize the overall theme of the film. Capitalism is a giant system in place in the United States that’s existed throughout its history, and it’s such an integral part of society that without it, society would fall apart. The timelessness of the film is what makes it such a popular and enjoyable film for those who watch it, and the social commentary the film effectively communicates is what helps this film still gain a devout following even after all of these years. Lionsgate announced in April of 2021 that there is a television show in the works at the studios, so be sure to be on the lookout for more news on that!

American Psycho

American Psycho (2000) Official Lionsgate Movies Trailer

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My name is Reya Krishna, and I’m currently a Journalism student at the University of North Texas. Writing is one of my biggest passions, and working in entertainment as an editorial writer is my dream. Be sure to check out my Instagram (@shreyakrii_) to be updated with other pursuits of mine!