American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000, USA/Canada)

Based on Bret Easton Ellis's bestselling novel, American Psycho arguably launched Christian Bale's career. Before this film, he was primarily known for his childhood role in Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, as well as the Disney musical Newsies. The film almost didn't happen with Christian Bale. The hottest actor in the world at the time, Leonardo DiCaprio, jumped aboard the project - leading to the firing of Bale and director Mary Harron. But Bale kept preparing for the role, rightfully anticipating that DiCaprio would drop out of the role for reasons related to his image as a teen heartthrob. 

Some of the directors considered for American Psycho included David Cronenberg, Stuart Gordon, and Oliver Stone, but it is perhaps for the best that Mary Harron directed the film. In a film that is very much concerned with male vanity and narcissism, it is a delight to see Harron turn the "female gaze" on Christian Bale for once. Even with Harron at the helm, the film courted controversy. Billed as a horror film or slasher, the film is in reality more a comedy of manners - it has more in common with Bunuel's Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie than Scream

While the film loses some steam in its third act, it is held together by Bale's iconic performance, as well as the witty writing from Harron and Guinevere Turner. American Psycho is one of those films that seems to grow in timeliness with each passing year - audiences were almost not ready for the film when it came out in 2000. Its percolation through pop culture and, in particular, internet culture, is a testament to the film's enduring legacy. Very telling is that for every viewer who laughs at Patrick Bateman, there is another who wants to be just like him.



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