In greedy 1987, 28 year-old Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a Wall Street player dedicated to a lifestyle of material acquisition and status. Engaged to Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon), Patrick's apparently perfect world revolves around physical perfection, designer labels, corporate power plays and getting bookings at trendy restaurants. Patrick Bateman is also a serial killer whose murder spree begins with a homeless man and accelerates as the disgust for the world he lives becomes all-consuming.
 

4
A visually rich film with the violence dealt with more discreetly than in the book.

Bateman occupies an office at Pierce & Pierce, who specialise in murders and executions, oh, sorry I got that wrong - it's mergers and acquisitions. You can't say he works there - he arranges lunch at 'now' restaurants, he gives sartorial tips to his colleagues. And when he's not in the office he`s eating at 'now' restaurants, competing with his colleagues for sartorial tips and working out at home on his excellent body while watching violent films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He freely admits to not having a single identifiable human emotion, except greed and disgust. The disgust manifests itself in increasingly violent ways...

The book American Psycho is so confronting it has to be sold in this country under a sealed wrap, and to tell you the truth, some of it was simply too much for me to read - the violence against women is truly appalling. The film was directed by Mary Harron who'd previously made I Shot Andy Warhol and co-written by her and Guinevere Turner who plays Elizabeth in the film. They have emphasised the metaphoric nature of the story, and although they don't underplay the violence, it's dealt with infinitely more discreetly than in the book. Christian Bale plays Bateman excellently, pitching his performance at just the level of surreality that the character requires. For Harron, this film is a marked leap... it's really an excellent adaptation.

David's Comment
A very fine performance by Christian Bale distinguishes this vicious satire on Reagan-era greed and yuppiedom, in a visually rich film which is often surprisingly funny, in a Kafka-ish kind of way. The bloody killings, mostly offscreen, have been toned down from the book, but are still not always necessary to a surprisingly sharp black comedy.