American Psycho

The most horrifying thing to me about American Psycho is Patrick Bateman’s almost plastic movements throughout the film. In this scene, watch as he sets up the murder, his movement are so blatantly contrived and the rhythm with which he speaks, as he’s putting on the raincoat in the bathroom to synchronized head movements, are visible attributes of  his madness. But i think his mannerisms and the mention of so many name brands throughout the film are insight into the sickness that was (and perhaps arguably still is) the American mind.

Bateman has a keen madness which is both demonstrative and, arguably, discontented with this state of mind. He plays Huey Lewis and The News’ “Hip To Be Square” and then, brutally puts an axe to a drunk, unsuspecting business man.  One thing i always notice when he’s murdering someone is the sudden fluidity of his movements. He no longer has the fixed mechanical action process. His madness, and acts of madness can therefore be seen both as a violence against the American mind- a sort of protest to elitism and “hip” ideologies that the Americans depicted in the film are so insistent on preserving and apparently barbarically upholding- and an embodiment of that ideology, as he hacks again and again at the body, criticizing his victim still, after death. I think, just briefly, we could also look at the suave mise-en-scene, and think of the brutal acts taking place within it, as a commentary on the brutal actions that would take place in the polished U.S.

 

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3 responses to “American Psycho

  1. Great scene. Agree completely with the “plastic movements” Bateman uses when speaking. The sudden change in demeanor and facial expression before and after Bateman kills is also astounding. It highlights how he has created a facade of himself as this businessman that enjoys “Huey Lewis and The News” in order to cover up the monster lurking inside.

  2. Love this movie. Excellent observation in terms of Bateman’s movements, it makes his body language and overall demeanor that much more shocking when he kills. This is a very effective aspect of Christian Bale’s performance!

  3. Excellent choice, Rob. It’s also interesting to examine “American Psycho” in relation to last week’s discussion on pop nihilism. If the nihilist sensitivity of “Point Blank” infuses it with an air of “coolness,” the meaningless existence of Bateman and other yuppies in 1980s New York has become decadent, violent, and disturbing. Again, we could ask ourselves the question where the politics of both movies are situated, and how it is possible that these two representations of “meaninglessness” can differ so significantly in terms of their ideology. Finally, it’s also interesting to see how “American Psycho” subverts traditional notion of “mental illness” as it represents the “successful” New York-yuppies as “mentally insane.”

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