Thursday, March 27, 2014

American Psycho: BC Book Club March and Movie Review #48

My friend warned me when I picked up this book, that I might not be able to handle it.  Having studied criminal justice and seen images of crime scenes, I thought maybe she was exaggerating a little bit.  Well, she wasn’t.

While I was able to make it through the entirety of American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis, there were times when I considered just putting the book down.  Having spent my time in lecture halls studying fairly gruesome things, and even working with victims of violence, I was not prepared for the onslaught of grotesque sexual violence that permeates (and is perpetrated) by the character Patrick Bateman.

While most people know the story from the film starring Christian Bale (movie to be discussed briefly), I didn’t know if the film can do the book justice and still be allowed to be viewed.  The story is thus: Patrick Bateman works on Wall Street.  Patrick Bateman is obsessed with status.  Patrick Bateman hates people.  Patrick Bateman kills them like a sadistic mo-fo.


I can see why this book is highly challenged.  The story is an interesting one, but the in depth writing and storytelling of violent and sadistic acts gets very gory and unsettling.  It makes you question what kind of person could write this much about such a heinous topic, without possibly being a little sadistic themselves.  I can’t deny the novel is artfully written.  Bret Easton Ellis has a talent for words and telling a story.  It’s just that this one is really sickening after a while.

I didn’t have any favorite quotes from this one.  Though overall, I did enjoy his style.  Having previously read Less Than Zero, I knew I would enjoy the style though not the content.  It’s worth the read if you have a very strong stomach.  You could essentially call the novel “torture porn.”  But if you can get past that, you can enjoy the stylings of the author.

I also decided to watch the film version.  Christian Bale played the main character Patrick Bateman, which is insanely perfect casting.  Reese Witherspoon is his “fiancee” Evelyn and Willem Dafoe is the Detective Kimball, who is investigating the mysterious disappearance of one of Bateman’s kills.  A variety of other decently known actors played the rest of the small cast, though they are certainly more famous now than when they were in the film.  It sticks very well to the content, omitting what could be omitted and augmenting when needed.  I give it an 8 out of 10.  While it does hold up to the canon well, it isn’t the type of film I would watch repeatedly.  Most of the violence happens off screen, but admittedly, Bale was a little too perfect as a sociopathic serial killer that it freaked me out a bit.  Just sayin’.