Mary Harron

Mary Harron

Originally adapted from Benton Ellis’ novel in 1991, Mary Harron gives the crime-drama film a satirical twist in ‘American Psycho’ (2000). Set in 1987 New York City, Harron lures us with scenes narrated by the devilishly handsome sociopath and Wall Street banker himself, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). Sharp interweaving scenes expose both Bateman’s daily regime as a Wall Street investment banker by day and satisfying his hedonist fantasies as a serial killer by night. 

Harron mirrors Bateman’s narrative through illusionary film techniques which allow our imaginations to wander and question if we are experiencing Bateman’s fantasy or reality. The camera lingers on the scenes that are focused upon the pure costume of Bateman’s dual caricature.

“There’s a “swoosh” every time a business card comes out because there is this element of classic masculine ritualized aggression. There’s also very crisp sounds of card cases opening and the “thwack” of the cards being laid down. It’s if it’s a military exercise but it’s being played out in business cards.”
— Mary Harron

Harron’s satirical themes of male ego, sexuality and misogyny interestingly connect with the ongoing theme of animalistic indulgences of luxury, vices, sex, and money. Though the daily life is seen as socially acceptable, both are shown to have monstrous characteristics within ‘American Psycho’. 

“I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.”
— Patrick Bateman

We are rawfully exposed to both the thoughts inside Bateman’s deranged mind and Harron’s lingering camera techniques to follow, bringing tension to each scene that tests Bateman’s mental strength in maintaining his dual persona.

The intertwining scenes of Bateman’s balancing act as a prodigy on Wall Street and a blood lusting murderer progressively cuts sharper throughout the film as his mask slowly rots, surfacing his true character.

 

American Psycho
director MARY HARRON
year 2000
director of photography ANDRZEJ SEKUŁA
cast CHRISTIAN BALE, JARED LETO, CHLOË SEVIGNY, REESE WITHERSPOON and WILLEM DAFOE 

words ELLEN GRACE

 

Joakim Heidvall

Joakim Heidvall

Pink Wall

Pink Wall