The meaning of the film American Psycho has been much debated since its release. Is it a glorification of violence? a satire of the yuppie lifestyle of the eighties? a disturbing trip through psychosis? Based on the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis, it is most often considered a black satire, commenting on the narcissism and excess of the young affluent Americans of the eighties and revealing the ugliness of their society.
[...] And though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping you and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.” The camera focuses on his face beneath the mask—simply another kind of mask. There are a number of voiceovers in the movie, occurring at key points. Each reveals the cold, calculating nature of the inside of Bateman's mind as the camera shows his stony expression and blank eyes. [...]
[...] These corpses, combined with Christie's terror as an emotion we can connect to, ground us in the reality of the scene. She finally escapes the apartment and is pursued by an electric-saw wielding Bateman. Though Christie screams and bangs on doors, no one comes out to investigate. This could mean one of two things: people don't care or the scene is simply Bateman's fantasy. Also, Bateman is forced to murder her in a public stairwell, which seems unwise, and manages to time perfectly the fall of the saw down about six floors. [...]
[...] On the outside, Bateman's personality is bland, uninteresting, and mindless, yet on the inside lurks a frenzied hatred, an anger built around the pristine confines of his life. Between dinner engagements at expensive restaurants and days at the office, Bateman engages in brutal acts of disfigurement, rape and murder. His first victim of major importance is his co-worker, Paul Allen, whom he kills for having a nicer business card than him. He covers up the murder by packing a suitcase and leaving an answering machine message stating the he (Paul Allen) has gone to London. [...]
[...] In his analysis of Jules Verne, Macherey points out that, initially, the purpose of the story is transparent, but that it is this obviousness and clear edged totality that makes us suspect something more is to be found (Macherey 161). American Psycho is a similarly loud work. It is challenging to get past this to find structuring opposition of the the silence (Macherey 84). In order to do this, the loudest statements of the film are considered and then turned on their heads to reveal the contrasting truth. [...]
[...] In Realism and the Cinema, MacCabe outlines the hierarchical nature of the 19th century classic realist text, showing how the reader is put in a position of dominant specularity by the method of narration (36). Films function in the same way using a different medium. When we watch a movie, we believe that we are in the position to know the ultimate truth, given to us by the various camera angles, the background movements, facial expressions etc. that tell us more than the characters ever could. [...]
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