I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.
Premiered: January 21st, 2000 at Sundance Film Festival
Directed by: Mary Harron
Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror, Thriller
MPAA Motion Picture Rating: Rated R for strong violence, sexuality, drug use and language
Christian Bale … as Patrick Bateman
Justin Theroux … as Timothy Bryce
Josh Lucas … as Craig McDermott
Bill Sage … as David Van Patten
Chloë Sevigny … as Jean
Reese Witherspoon … as Evelyn Williams
Samantha Mathis … as Courtney Rawlinson
Matt Ross … as Luis Carruthers
Jared Leto … as Paul Allen
Willem Dafoe … as Donald Kimball
Cara Seymour … as Christie
Guinevere Turner … as Elizabeth
Status: Out on DVD & Blu-Ray worldwide.
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Content Warning: Please note that Chloë Sevigny has appeared in many R-rated movies which contain material unsuitable for young or sensitive audiences due to their mature, violent, frightening or otherwise graphic footage or content. If you are sensitive to this kind of content, some material presented on our site, such as screen caps and video clips from the movie itself, may not be suitable for you.
In 1987, twentysomething Wall Street broker Patrick Bateman seems to have it all: he is handsome, successful and engaged to the beautiful Evelyn. However, Patrick is also engaged in an affair with Courtney Rawlinson — his colleague’s fiancée — and at night indulges in a confused orgy of drugs, pornography, prostitution and murder fantasies. When Patrick is outshone by a rival at a board meeting, he takes out his frustration by knifing a man sleeping rough in the street. This sparks off a descent into violence and madness, with Patrick embarking on a bloody and random killing spree. Bret Easton Ellis’ disturbing novel is brought to the screen by Mary Harron.
Chloë Sevigny portrays Jean, Patrick’s mousy secretary who, unaware of his sadism and psychopathic tendencies, falls in love with him. At the same time, Jean seems to be the only person in Patrick’s life whom he feels genuinely disinclined to kill.
[Patrick Bateman arrives late at his office.]
Patrick: “Aerobics class, sorry. Any messages?”
Jean: “Ricky Harrison has to cancel. He didn’t say what he was canceling or why.”
Patrick: “I occasionally box with Ricky at the Harvard Club. Anyone else?”
Jean: “Spencer wants to meet for drinks at Flutie’s Pier 17.”
Jean: “After 6.00.”
Patrick: “Negative. Cancel it.”
Jean: “And what should I say?”
Patrick: “Just say no.”
Jean: “Just say no?”
Patrick: “Okay, Jean. I need reservations for three at Camols at 12:30, and if not there, try Crayons. Alright?”
Jean: “Yes, sir.”
Patrick: “Oh, wait. And I need reservations for two at Arcadia at eight o’clock on Thursday.”
Jean: “Something romantic?”
[Patrick begins to smile.]
Patrick: “No. Silly. Forget it, I’ll make them.”
Jean: “No, I’ll do it.”
Patrick: “No, no. Be a doll and just get me a mineral water, okay?”
Jean: “You look nice today.”
Patrick: “Don’t wear that outfit again.”
Jean: “What? I didn’t hear you.”
Patrick: “I said, do not wear that outfit again. Wear a dress, a skirt or something.”
[Jean looks uncomfortable.]
Jean: “You don’t like this, I take it?”
Patrick: “Come on. You’re prettier than that.”
Jean: “Thanks, Patrick.”
Patrick: “I’m not here. And high heels. I like high heels.”
Patrick: “What is it?”
Patrick: “Yes, Jean?”
Jean: “There’s a Mr. Donald Kimball here to see you.”
Jean: “Detective Donald Kimball.”
Patrick: “Tell him I’m at lunch.”
Jean: “Patrick, it’s only 10:30. I think he knows you’re here.”
Jean: “Doing the crossword?”
[Patrick is filling a newspaper crossword with the words ‘meat’ and ‘bone’.]
Jean: “You need any help?”
Jean: “Yes, Patrick?”
Patrick: “Would you like to accompany me to dinner? That is, if you’re not doing anything.”
[Jean is visibly delighted.]
Jean: “Um… No. No, I don’t have any plans.”
Patrick: “Well…! Isn’t this a coincidence. Listen, where should we go?”
Jean: “Anywhere you want.”
Patrick: “Let’s not think about what I want. How about anywhere you want?”
Jean: “I don’t know, Patrick. I can’t make this decision.”
Patrick: “Come on. Where do you wanna go? Anywhere you want, just say it, I can get us in anywhere.”
Jean: “What about… Dorsia?”
[Patrick nods slowly.]
Patrick: “So, Dorsia is where Jean wants to go.”
Jean: “Oh, I don’t know. No, we’ll go any– wherever you wanna go.”
Patrick: “Dorsia is fine.”
[Patrick calls Dorsia.]
Receptionist: [on the phone] “Dorsia. Yes?”
Patrick: “Yeah, can you take two tonight at, well, let’s say nine o’clock?”
Receptionist: [on the phone] “We’re totally booked.”
Patrick: “Really? That’s great.”
Receptionist: [on the phone] “No, I said we are totally booked.”
Patrick: “Two at 9:00? Perfect. See you then.”
[Patrick hangs up the phone. Jean looks confused.]
Patrick: “… Yeah? You’re… dressed ok.”
Jean: “You didn’t give a name.”
Patrick: “They know me. Why don’t you meet me at my place at 7:00, for drinks. And Jean? You’ll wanna change before we go out.”
[Jean is admiring Patrick’s stylish and well ordered apartment.]
Jean: “Patrick, it’s so elegant. What a wonderful view.”
Patrick: “Jean, sorbet?”
Jean: “Thanks, Patrick. I’d love some. Do you want a bite?”
Patrick: “I’m on a diet. But thank you.”
Jean: “You don’t need to lose any weight. You’re kidding, right? You look great. Very fit.”
Patrick: “You can always be thinner, look better.”
Jean: “Well, maybe we shouldn’t go out to dinner. I don’t want to ruin your will power.”
Patrick: “No, it’s alright. I’m not very good at controlling it anyway.”
Patrick: “Did you know that, uh, Ted Bundy’s first dog, a collie, was named Lassie? [laughs] Had you heard this?”
Jean: “Who’s Ted Bundy?”
Patrick: “Forget it.”
Jean: “Patrick, have you ever wanted to make someone happy?”
[Jean is about to put the sorbet spoon on the table.]
Patrick: “What? No! Put it in the carton!”
Patrick: “Jean? What?”
Jean: “Um… Make someone happy. Have you ever wanted to?”
Patrick: “I’m looking for, uh…”
[Patrick raises a nail gun to the back of Jean’s head; Jean is unaware.]
Patrick: “I guess you could say I just want to have a meaningful relationship with someone special.”
Jean: “Do you want me to go?”
Patrick: “Yeah. I don’t think I can control myself.”
Jean: “I know, I should go. I know I have a tendency to get involved with unavailable men. I mean, do you want me to go?”
Patrick: “I think if you stay, something bad will happen. I think I might hurt you. You don’t wanna get hurt, do you?”
Jean: “No. No, I guess not. I don’t wanna get bruised. You’re right. I should go.”
[Jean starts to make her way to the door.]
Jean: “Oh, don’t forget you have a lunch date tomorrow with Donald Kimball at Smith and Wollensky’s.”
Patrick: “Thanks. It slipped my mind completely.”
Select quotations regarding the film from Chloë Sevigny and her co-workers:
Quotations coming soon/not available.
• American Psycho is based on Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial and ultraviolent book by the same name.
• Feminist activist and author Gloria Steinem opposed Ellis’ book upon its publication because of its portrayal of violence towards women. Steinem is also the stepmother of Christian Bale, who portrays the book’s murderous anti-hero in the film adaptation.
• Original casting for the film included Leonardo DiCaprio as Patrick Bateman, James Woods as Donald Kimball and Cameron Diaz as Evelyn Williams. Edward Norton was also offered the part of Bateman, but he turned it down, while Oliver Stone was originally set to direct the film adaptation.
• The movie showing on Bateman’s TV while he’s working out is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
• Two scenes in the film feature improvisation by Christian Bale. In one scene in which Bateman is exercising by jumping rope, Bale unexpectedly begins to skip and cross his jump rope like a schoolgirl, while in another, Bale surprises director Mary Harron by suddenly starting to dance when he prepares to kill Jared Leto’s Paul Allen. According to Harron’s DVD commentary, she collapsed with laughter.
• According to the DVD commentary by Mary Harron, the film is set in 1987.
• Chloë Sevigny and co-star Willem Dafoe also appear in Manderlay (2005) and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009).
Reviews on American Psycho have ranged from one extreme to the other, but the majority response to the film has been positive. Although the film’s graphic violence was denounced by many particularly at the time of the film’s release, some critics were able to recognize a morbid humor in Patrick’s erratic and homicidal behavior as it disturbs the superficial world of the film’s business executives, and Christian Bale’s outstanding lead performance continues to receive worldwide acclaim still today.
• Rating: Internet Movie Database: 7.6/10 with c. 313,700 user votes counted
• Rating: MetaCritic: 64/100 metascore, “Generally favorable reviews”
• Rating: Rotten Tomatoes: 67% positive reviews (“Fresh”)
Extracts from professional movie reviews:
“Without leaving you unsatisfied, American Psycho asks more questions than it answers. Is Patrick Bateman really a homicidal killer, happily hacking, sawing and drilling his nights away? When he confesses to his equally empty social clique, they either don’t hear him, or they laugh it off — that Patrick, such a joker! Is it all just a satirical social parable, telling us that as long as you’re rich, tan and have killer abs, it doesn’t matter what you do? Are the murders all in Patrick’s lithium-laden head? Or are they fantasies to allay the feelings of inferiority and the frustrations he suffers? Whether he did it or not, there is no doubt that Patrick Bateman is insane, and Bale’s portrayal of him as he unravels is stellar.”
– Staci Layne Wilson, Horror.com
“Just as our laughter subsides into genuine fear, Harron switches gears yet again. Bateman’s lust for blood accelerates in direct proportion to his frantic consumption of designer goods. As he falls slowly, surely apart, the movie takes a turn for the surreal, raising doubts about whether his foul misdeeds actually took place, or were the products of a sick imagination. Harron clearly relishes the ambiguity — American Psycho can be read either as the story of the impotent, raving fantasy life of an ineffectual man, or as a monster movie, a fable of power run amok at the end of a century notable for the abuse of power. In the end, the movie, like the novel, leans toward the latter. As Bateman, a man of his time, slouches in a bar with the usual suspects, a television flickers with images of Reagan genially my-fellow-Americaning the crowd at George Bush’s inauguration. ‘He looks so normal, so out of it,’ a young buck idly remarks. ‘So… undangerous.'”
– Elle Taylor, L.A. Weekly
“It’s just as well a woman directed ‘American Psycho’. She’s transformed a novel about blood lust into a movie about men’s vanity. A male director might have thought Patrick Bateman, the hero of ‘American Psycho’, was a serial killer because of psychological twists, but Mary Harron sees him as a guy who’s prey to the usual male drives and compulsions. He just acts out a little more. [—] You see why Harron has called the film ‘feminist’. So it is — and a libel against the many sane, calm and civilized men it does not describe. But it’s true to a type, all right. It sees Bateman in a clear, sharp, satiric light, and it despises him. Christian Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor.”
– Roger Ebert, RogerEbert.com
Awards & Nominations
American Psycho has received 5 awards and 8 award nominations.
• Awards Circuit Community Award (2000): Best Actor in a Leading Role (Christian Bale)
• Chlotrudis Award (2001): Best Actor (Christian Bale)
• Chlotrudis Award (2001): Best Adapted Screenplay (Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner)
• International Horror Guild Award (2001): Best Movie
• National Board of Review Special Recognition (2000): For Excellence in Filmmaking
• Awards Circuit Community Award (2000): Best Adapted Screenplay (Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner)
• Camerimage Golden Frog Award (2000): (Andrzej Sekula)
• Empire Award (2001): Best British Actor (Christian Bale)
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Best Screenplay, Adapted (Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner)
• London Critics Circle ALFS Award (2001): British Actor of the Year (Christian Bale)
• London Critics Circle ALFS Award (2001): Director of the Year (Mary Harron)
• Online Film Critics Society Award (2000): Best Actor (Christian Bale)
• Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival Award: Best Film (Mary Harron)
Chloë Sevigny Online
Please note that the opinions expressed below are all 100% our own, not those of Chloë Sevigny or anyone affiliated with either her or the rest of the cast or crew.
I’m generally not a big fan of ultraviolent or otherwise especially graphic movies, and though American Psycho is not the most disturbing of what’s out there (particularly not today), I still have to take a few sips of water every time I watch it (what can I say, I’m a bit of a wimp). That said, as a film about the psychological unraveling of what on the outside appears to be a perfect man, American Psycho is everything: fascinating, thrilling, upsetting, satisfying and, most of all, tremendously entertaining from start to finish. Christian Bale commits to his portrayal of the demented Bateman like I’ve never seen anyone do before or since, and it’s his seemingly neverending energy combined with Harron and Turner’s clever adaptated screenplay that makes the film. Truly, if you haven’t seen this yet, now is the time. (Put the kids to bed first, though.)
Bale is the undisputed star of the film, but Chloë Sevigny also puts in a great performance as the unassertive (but not unintelligent) Jean. In fact, the blood and violence aside, to me her scenes with Bale are the film’s most powerful as Jean unknowingly (and at last) begins to break down some Patrick’s walls of pretense and false display and reveal his broken psyche. When Patrick gently tells Jean to leave because “he thinks he might hurt her,” it’s a powerful moment where you hope both for Patrick to finally start confronting who he is and for Jean to come out of it alive. Only the latter really happens, but it’s pretty great all the same.
In fact, the entire cast is pretty stellar in their respective roles, but I dare say it is Bale’s completely unhinged performance which leaves an indelible mark on the film itself, the film industry and film history. -Admin
Our rating of the movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Our rating of Chloë’s performance: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Below are some American Psycho-related links that may be of interest to you.