American Psycho (2000)
The Issue: Materialism
In 1987, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a wealthy wall street banker who’s life is all about keeping up appearances. He only cares about material items like what restaurants he goes to, how much he works out and his taste for designer clothing.
Bateman and his coworkers flaunt their business cards. His coworker, Paul Allen (Jared Leto) has the superior card. Bateman is enraged with jealousy, so he then murders a homeless man. (Side note: all the business cards look the same). Bateman then makes dinner plans with Paul, who mistakes him for a different coworker (side note: all the employees look the same). Bateman invites Paul back to his apartment and murders him while listening to Huey Lewis and the News. He disposes of Paul’s body and convinces everyone Paul went to London. Bateman is interrogated about Paul’s disappearance by a private detective, then invites two sex workers to his home to torture.
Bateman’s coworker Luis shows off his new business card and Bateman goes to strangle him, but hesitates. Luis mistakes this for a sexual advance and admits his love for Bateman, who panics and flees. He murders a model and then uses Paul’s apartment to have a threesome. He attacks the women involved, who discover more female corpses in the apartment. Bateman then tries to feed a cat to an ATM. A woman tries to stop him, so he shoots her and leaves the cat. Police cars begin to chase Bateman and he shoots at them and escapes.
Bateman enters an office building, mistakenly thinking it’s his (side note: all the buildings look the same). He kills a security guard and a janitor, then calls his lawyer and leaves a long confession to all the crimes.
The next day, Bateman goes to Paul’s apartment and finds it empty and for sale. He goes to find his lawyer and confesses again, but the lawyer thinks its a joke and says he saw Paul in London recently. Bateman is confused but goes back to have lunch with his colleagues, knowing he won’t be punished for his crimes.
What It’s Saying
American Psycho is a satire of the 1980s and the culture within it: consumerism, materialism, narcissism, greed. This movie heard Gordon Gecko’s “greed is good” speech and offered this as a comeback.