Dir: Mary Harron
Star: Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny
There are some basic problems with the concept here, mostly down to the film being a decade too late: satirising the 80’s in the year 2000 is like kicking a dead puppy. Still, there is enough malevolence here to keep you interested, and Bale is excellent as Patrick Bateman, yuppie scum par excellence, gazing into the abyss of restaurant reservations and business cards. Harron alters the balance from the book, downplaying Bateman’s misogyny (no rat scene here), in favour of playing with the question of how much is real, and how much just fantasy. It’s less a parade of designer labels too, though the lectures on pop songs transfer nicely, even if Whitney Houston clearly refused to let them use her version of The Greatest Love of All.
The film’s other major flaw is it has almost no sympathetic characters: not Bateman, girlfriend Reese Witherspoon, or anyone else, and you simply don’t care about victims or perpetrator. As an aside, I note that while strenuously striving to avoid a cliched serial-killer, Bateman’s choice of viewing is, predictably, porn and horror; is this the first politically-correct slasher-pic? But easily the most horrific thing about the movie is the thought that it was nearly Leonardo di Caprio in the title role…