|Directed by:||Mary Harron|
|Written by:||Mary Harron, Roberta Hanley, Guinevere Turner|
|Cast:||Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross|
|Studio:||Lion's Gate Films|
Satire: n. a literary genre in which ridicule is thrown upon something by stressing its worst features, often by the use of irony, thus assuming or affirming a norm by which aberrations are judged.
You must appreciate the definition of a satire if you truly want to experience this film on the level upon which it is presented. Many satirical cinematic presentations have flopped, others flourished. This one…works! Sick. Funny. Horrific. Charming. Unsettling. A delight. A film that can have you laughing out loud one minute, and freezing up horribly the next. A definite original, one that should have people talking for some time to come, and most definitely not for everyone! I loved the humor in this film, I loved the many great lines in this film, I even loved the whole point of the film, about a time and place in our society in which people and material objects transcended one another and became one in the same (remind anyone else of FIGHT CLUB as well?). And with materialism, greed and objectification running rampant, what is a guy like Patrick Bateman to do? Well, he essentially does what everyone in that world was doing from day to day…hiding their secrets on the inside, while maintaining a mask of serenity on the outs. The only problem with Patrick is that his “secret” is just a little more damaging than that of anyone else. Yeesh…is it ever! But if there’s one reason to see this movie, one reason that I would have to pick to see this picture again and again, and one reason why the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio just seems totally ludicrous right now (even though he is a great actor in his own right)…two words: Christian Bale.
I hope that this film catapults this solid thespian to greater heights, because he doesn’t just play the role of Patrick Bateman in this movie…he becomes it! A wonderful caricature of an intelligent, charming, outgoing man teetering on the brink of insanity. His look, his clothes, his eyes, his smile, his sweat, his toned body…Christian conquers this character’s sardonic manner, his abundant charisma and most definitely…his killer instinct. If it sounds like I’m in love with Mr. Bale, well, you may be right (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Simply an awesome performance…nominate the guy for something, for God’s sakes! Of course, the story itself really isn’t a story as much it is a slice-of-life flick featuring one really bizarre character head-tripping through some very odd situations in life. I enjoyed the performances, which were all blessed by a tongue and cheek, loved the directing, Harron showing the world that she is more than just a one-trick pony, and in the end, I was thoroughly entertained and excited by the entire film. I guess you can’t really ask for more than that when seeing a movie, right?
Add to that the fact that the ending is kind of ambiguous (but in a good way), the powerhouse performance by Christian Bale and the many, many funny lines and over-the-top sexual situations, and this film is a complete success on its own terms. Of course, it also manages to offset much of that humor with a few pretty gruesome moments with respect to Patrick’s dirty little secret, a task handled quite admirably, it must be said. And for all you poor saps who’ve apparently been robbed of a 10-second bit during one of the film’s menage-a-trois sequences (apparently cut out of the U.S. edition), well, let me just say from the perspective of someone who did see the missing snippet (I’m Canadian, eh!), no big fuss, folks. Just a guy doggying a girl in front of a mirror. You gotta love that MPAA! “Harumph….no, no, no…we can’t have this sexual position in the movie…it’s disgraceful!! What…a decapitated head in the refrigerator? Oh, that’s no problem…that could stay.” A very cool satire featuring one messed up dude portrayed splendidly by one awesome actor.
The coolest thing about this movie is its lead character of Patrick Bateman, played uniquely by the one and only, Christian Bale (who was somehow looked over by most every “Best Actor” list at the end of that year…pooh, on those who voted!). Anyway, this dude is the ultimate shallow man of the 80s, with almost no emotional resonance whatsoever and little more on his mind but to “fit in”. The scene in which the boys show each other their new business cards is especially great in depicting Patrick’s shallowness, as the anger built up inside of him during the trade, is more than any emotion that he shows during the rest of the movie. Almost every single scene with this character is either hilarious, terrifying or captivating to watch, and his brilliant portrayal of this very convoluted character is what takes this film to an even higher plateau. Kudos to Bale and to Patrick Bateman for being a dazzling character and a blast to watch.
Interesting tidbits about the film and its stars:
Born in Wales, Christian Bale made his major motion picture debut starring in Steven Spielberg’s epic EMPIRE OF THE SUN, as the lead kid. Director Harron’s first choice for the role of Patrick Bateman had always been Christian Bale, but Leonardo DiCaprio was also attached to play the character, when Oliver Stone was set to direct early on. And how seriously did Bale take his role? Well, he basically prepared for months, transforming himself physically through rigorous diet and a heavy exercise regimen. He even trained with a voice coach to perfect the ideal preppy, Wall Street accent. This film is based on the controversial best-seller by Bret Easton Ellis (who also wrote the novel LESS THAN ZERO). The screenplay was written by the director of this film, Mary Harron, and Guinevere Turner, who also plays the character of Elizabeth in the movie. Guinevere has also held various other film roles including parts in CHASING AMY and DOGMA. In fact, her friendship with director Kevin Smith runs pretty deep, as he apparently named the character of Gwen Turner in MALLRATS after her.
NOTE: This review was originally published in my 2002 book entitled "JoBlo.com presents...The 50 Coolest Movies of All-Time". Please note that these reviews are dated, and the book actually features my own PERSONAL list of faves from 1970-2000 or so.