Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000). Director: Mary Herron.

This is a rare case of a movie being better than the book it's based upon -- in this case Bret Easton Ellis' shlocky, pseudo-literary pop novel -- although it's still no great shakes. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale, who also plays Batman) works for an investment firm and enjoys killing people whenever he feels like it. Sometimes it's people he can't stand or who have annoyed him in some way; on other occasions he's just in the mood to off someone. Bateman feigns concern for minorities and the poor, but is actually a typical, over-bearing, insufferably smug over-privileged jerk who thinks he's better than everyone else. The social commentary is fairly thick and obvious, so the movie gets no points for that. As a thriller it is passably entertaining, with a certain degree of suspense, but Herron is hardly a Hitchcock. The movie is certainly more entertaining than the novel, possibly because it doesn't seem to take itself as seriously, among other reasons. Bale gives an excellent performance, and in general is better than the material. Reese Witherspoon plays his fiancee; Willem Dafoe is an investigator looking into the "disappearance" of one of Bateman's colleagues. The picture looks good, but whatever its merits, it's ultimately as empty and unsatisfying as its unsatisfied lead character. Chloe Sevigny scores as Bateman's likable secretary, Jean, and there are several other good performances.

Verdict: You'll probably forget it the minute it's over. **.

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