View Full Version : Movie chat - American Psycho

08-29-2001, 07:44 PM
This is just a little theory I had when watching American Psycho.

I watched American Psycho for the first time last night abnd as the credits rolled up it dawned on me that the lead character, Patrick Bateman (the psycho) didn't actually kill anyone at all during the movie. All he had were fantasies of killing (on a strength par to that of Edward Nortons character in Fight Club) which were so strong as to seem totally real. The reason for this was that he was so sick of trying to fit himself into his world (which was unnaturally shallow and superficial, perfect to a standard he could never live up to - the scene where they compare business cards is a good example of what I'm talking about) that he needed some form of release, some way of marking him out from those around him. Basically he needed to convince himself he was different from the norm in the most shocking way he could so that he could finally have something the other guys at the office didn't have (If you watch the film you'll notice that everything of Batemans is ever so slightly flawed - his business card is plain, his apartment doesn't overlook the park like his friend, Paul Allen's does, his cufflinks aren't as stylish as his friends etc...) so he manufactured all the violent fantasies as a way of relieving himself of the strain of trying to conform to a world he saw as being too perfect for anyone to truly fit into. Thus, no-one actually died in American Psycho.

Does anyone agree?

08-29-2001, 07:47 PM
Exactly. I haven't read the novel, but I think the novel had the same "twist."

08-29-2001, 07:50 PM
To my mind that's exactly what the ending of the movie meant (as opposed to the book) and I thought it was a complete cop out. The book, as gruesome as it was, was at least honest in it's picture of Bateman as a completely unfeeling sociopath. The movie left the thought that he had only fantasized about doing the killings. Is he then a psycho for having too vivid an imagination?

08-29-2001, 07:56 PM
The way I saw it the movie was able to use the idea that Bateman hadn't killed anyone back to the underlying satirical aspect of the book about the shallowness of '80's yuppie life. It basically showed a man killing all these people in exceptionally gruesome ways, revealed it to be a massive delusion and said 'Look! This is what you have to do to survive in a world like this'. I think the Bateman character was a product of his environment and his obsession to fit in with it. So basically he is kind of a psycho, just not as bad as we thought.

08-29-2001, 07:56 PM
I didn't get that from the movie at all. Did I miss something important? :confused:

08-29-2001, 07:59 PM
Blacknight; I think it's all about how you interpret it, my friends are kinda divided on this with half of them siding with me and half of them thinking that he really was a killer. The fact that the movie's open to interpretation like this is one of the things I like about it.

08-29-2001, 11:36 PM
I noticed that in the end when his friend complains about the dry beer and suggests that they get scotch it cuts to Patrick with a scotch that he obviously didn't have before. Just a small idea can make him see what he wants.

08-29-2001, 11:37 PM
I sort of saw it as the opposite. He finally goes sane and realizes the enormity of what he has done. And in the end he cannot get anyone to believe him when he confesses his crimes. Thus he is doomed to carry the burden of his crimes without the catharsis of acceptance of his punishment.

Gozu Tashoya
08-30-2001, 04:28 AM
It's been a while since I saw it, but did the crimes really occur (regardless of who committed them)? IIRC, which I'm probably not, they didn't, and thus he just has a vivid imagination. If they did, I don't think there's enough in the movie to support his putting together a fantasy of him committing the crimes committed by other people.

And, IMHO, all their business cards were plain. The others just had plain cards on nicer paper.

::Waits for AudreyK, the American Psycho nut and typographer to chime in::

Geek Mecha
08-30-2001, 06:05 AM
Feh. My beautiful post was eaten when IE crashed on me. I take that as I sign that I should get to bed.

Let's just say I agree with both Gomez and Euty.

And although the business cards were plain, they were intimidating, which was the desired effect. That's what made them works of art.

08-30-2001, 06:18 AM
He commited the murders.

When the lawyer announces twoard the end that he has had lunch in London with the missing victim he is simply making percisely the same mistake as was made when Bateman was mistaken for Hasslebaum.

A comment is being made (through the use of the labelled clothes as a device in the book , amongst other devices) that there is percisely nothing distinguishing about these yuppies. They look,act and think the same.
Their buisness cards are virtually indistinguishable from each others.

It is Bateman's slightly unusal pechant for marching around his appartment with the severed head of his murder victim on his penis that makes him different, he has a problem with his differnence seeing himself as being not quite an entity and yet he is the only clearly defined individual in terms of personality.

When he visits Paul Allen's apartment (where he stored a few bodies) and finds it clean and painted and being shown by the Estate Agent , people assume this is meant to indicate that nothing ever happened there and that he dreamt it all up.

I take it to be something quiet different ,the paint job has been done to conceal the fact taht this place was a murder den ...can you imagine what knowing that will do to teh property value? It is the greed of the Estate Agent that means nothing was reported. Didn't see seem a little wary to anyone else when suggesting that "you should just leave and dont come back"

08-30-2001, 06:28 AM
Actually, I interpreted it this way:

Bateman was a killer. He did all these nasty, horrible things, but because of the high social circle he was in, everything got covered up.

His class of friends only live to consume and show off their consumerism. This was, after all, the "Me" decade. The conversations were very detached with people only talking about themselves and their opinions without listening to others. So even while he was trying to confess his thoughts and acts, no one wanted to hear it because
1) It was terribly unbelievable and didn't offer what people WANTED to hear
2) It was ugliness that would better be ignored in a world of pretty people. They didn't WANT to hear it.

AT the end of the movie, when Bateman has a conversation with his lawyer and the lawyer remarks that he just SAW Paul Allen a week ago, it's the clincher. The lawyer didn't even know who Bateman was, others automatically accepted him as Paul Allen, many "old friends" didn't even know Bateman. The society is so self-immersed that no one notices when one of its own is even gone!

At some point, with enough wealth and backscratching, there was a clean up of bodies because ugliness is just best avoided and ignored. "We don't talk about that here. By the way, look at my suit. Giorgio's personal tailor flew in from Italy himself to make it. Do you think the cuff is too long? I told him I was concerned about the cuff because you know how that style can fade in a moment's notice. Oh hey! Is that Gigi? I haven't seen her in DAYS. I think she's pregnant..."

08-30-2001, 07:31 AM
There wasn't a single character in the movie (with the exception of his secretary, and Louis, which I will return to ) that showed any emotion or depth of character. I think the key to this (and in the book) is based on his obsession with finding deeper meaning within the most plastic of music (Huey Lewis & the news, Genesis etc.) and on what it is played on (his hi-fi discussions). The only people who he knows are his friends (and even at that he dosent really know them). His entire self image is external, and his entire image of everyone around him is based on that premise too.

As for the murders, I don't think he did them (in the movie, anyway). His phychosis (sp?) is developed by trying to fit in to a life that no one really fits into anyway. The main point of this is that he dosent realise he is trying to fit in, or that there is a way of life other than what he lives. His dillusions are because he wants to be something he isn't. What he dosent realise is that he never was anything in the first place.

The book and film are an excellent treatise on a prevailent attitude of the 80's yuppie lifestyle, summed up best in the Business Card scene. The sheer Emotion that Patrick Bateman shows when someone has a better card then him. All of the other business cards displayed are almost identical. Louis' card has a different coloured paper, and font. This is a show of Louis' individuality to the rest of the peers. His "flamboyance" (for want of a better word) infuriates Bateman, because Louis has some knowledge of what he is, rather than Bateman et al being unable to define themselves.This is also why Bateman wants to kill him in a later scene.

really great book and movie.

08-30-2001, 10:14 AM
In the book, I think it's pretty clear that he DID do it; the movie is more equivocal. There is evidence in the movie to support both interpretations.
BTW, Christian Bale was just incredible in that movie! Wow! Can you believe that Leonardo DiCaprio almost got that role? (Mary Harron said she wouldn't direct if they cast Leonardo, though, thank God. Let's hear it for artistic integrity!)

Geek Mecha
08-30-2001, 12:45 PM
I dunno about you guys, but I kept seeing Christian Bale as the cute, naive 12-year-old choir singer he played in Empire of the Sun.

08-30-2001, 02:33 PM
I read the book and I would agree that he actually did kill those people. I saw the movie with some friends that hadn't read the book and two them thought that he didn't do it. So I can see their and the OP's point.

08-30-2001, 04:39 PM
I think he did the murders. I thought it was about everyone being so wrapped up in themselves in the 80's to know or care what was going on around them.

08-30-2001, 04:40 PM
I think it was all in his imagination (although there have been many great theories on the "He Did Kill Them" side). The scene that convinced me of it was when the secretary looks through his planner and sees the drawings of the "murders" he committed.

A few other scenes made me go, "Huh?" and wonder if it was real at all. What about those pills he swallows right before he kills Paul Allan? What are those? Plus, the whole shoot-em-up scene in the end. Too surreal to make me think Bateman really committed those crimes. Also, and this has to do with the drawings, IIRC the scene that comes up right after he kills the hooker with the chain saw is of him drawing that murder on the paper table cover at the reseraunt with Evelyn.

I think that American Psycho was one of the most underrated films in quite a while. Sucks to Lions Gate for not marketing it well enough.

08-30-2001, 04:49 PM
And another thing, after he kills Paul allen he is seen dragging the body out in a body bag that is actually leaking blood. He walks right by a security guard on the way out and by another couple on the way in. It's odd in the least that they didn't notice this blood trail. Also the security guard, as a blue collar worker, wouldn't have been subject to the same satire as Bateman and co. so he wouldn't have been too wrapped up in himself not to notice but he didn't anyway.

09-06-2001, 11:56 AM
I thought it was all in his head. The ending made it pretty clear, but now I've got doubts... I'll have to pay more attention to detail next time I see it!

09-06-2001, 01:13 PM
The best explanation I heard was this.

You know how no one really knew who anyone else was? The guy he invited to his house kept calling him that other name and such. Maybe it wasn't only him. Everyone was so into themselves they didn't know anyone else, and the guy that said he had dinner with the guy he killed, it could have been someone completely different having the same thing that Bateman had happen to him with the guy he killed.

That makes it much more interesting to me.

09-06-2001, 01:20 PM
Blacknight; I think it's all about how you interpret it, my friends are kinda divided on this with half of them siding with me and half of them thinking that he really was a killer. The fact that the movie's open to interpretation like this is one of the things I like about it.
Is is open to interpretation?

He goes back to his own personal butcher shop he's created in that vacant apartment complex, and everything's fine; nothing's happened.

Bateman's attorney tells him he saw the guy Bateman supposed carved up alive and in Europe.

Just those two items, and other cues, are pretty strong indicators it was all in his head. Otherwise, how do you explain them?

09-06-2001, 03:47 PM
Euty said:

The book, as gruesome as it was, was at least honest in it's picture of Bateman as a completely unfeeling sociopath.

I dunno. I got the same feeling from the book that perople here are saying they got from the movie (I haven't seen it). I got to the end and it really seemed to me that he didn't commit any of the crimes. Actually, it seemed that way to me during the reading of the book, too.

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