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American Psycho is a 2000 Canadian-American satirical comedy psychological horror film co-written and directed by Mary Harron, based on Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel of the same name. It stars Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Samantha Mathis, Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, Guinevere Turner, and Reese Witherspoon.

Plot Edit

Warning: this text contains details about the plot/ending of the film.

In 1987, wealthy New York investment banker Patrick Bateman's life revolves around dining at trendy restaurants while keeping up appearances for his fiancée Evelyn and his circle of wealthy and shallow associates, most of whom he dislikes. Bateman describes the material accoutrements of his lifestyle, including his daily morning exercise, beautification routine, designer wardrobe and expensive furniture. He also discusses his music collection, which includes Huey Lewis and the News, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston.

Bateman and his associates flaunt their business cards in a display of vanity. Enraged by the superiority of co-worker Paul Allen's card, Bateman murders a homeless man and kills the man's dog. At a Christmas party, Bateman makes plans to have dinner with Allen, who mistakes Bateman for another coworker, Marcus Halberstram. Bateman gets Allen drunk and lures him back to his apartment. While playing "Hip to Be Square" on the stereo, Bateman delivers a monologue to Allen about the artistic merits of the song and of Huey Lewis and the News, then murders him with a chrome axe. He disposes of Allen's body, and then goes to his apartment to stage the situation so that others believe Allen has run off to London.

Bateman is later interviewed about Allen's disappearance in his office by private detective Donald Kimball. During the night, Bateman takes two prostitutes, whom he names Christie and Sabrina, to his apartment and explains to them the improvement he saw in the band Genesis after they moved away from progressive rock toward a more pop rock sound beginning with the album Duke. After they have sex, Bateman tells them to stay, while taking out instruments he uses for bodily harm. In the next scene, they leave his apartment bloodied and injured.

The next day Bateman's colleague Luis Carruthers reveals his new business card. Bateman tries to kill Luis in the restroom of an expensive restaurant but cannot bring himself to strangle him. Luis mistakes the attempted murder for a sexual advance and declares his love for Bateman, who flees in disgust. After murdering a model, Bateman invites his secretary, Jean, to dinner, suggesting she meet him at his apartment for drinks before. When Jean arrives, Bateman, unbeknownst to her, holds a nailgun to the back of her head while the two converse. When he receives an answering machine message from his fiancée, Evelyn, he asks Jean to leave. Kimball meets Bateman for lunch and tells him he is not under suspicion.

Bateman later invites Christie and his acquaintance Elizabeth to Allen's apartment for sex and kills Elizabeth during the act. Christie runs, discovering multiple female corpses in various rooms as she searches for an exit. A naked Bateman chases her while wielding a chainsaw, and drops it on her as she flees down a staircase, killing her.

Bateman breaks off his engagement with Evelyn. That night, as he uses an ATM, he finds a stray kitten. The ATM displays the text "feed me a stray cat". As he prepares to shoot the cat, a woman sees and tries to stop him. He shoots her and lets the cat go free. A police chase ensues but Bateman destroys the police cars by shooting their gas tanks. Fleeing to his office, Bateman enters the wrong office building, where he murders a security guard and a janitor. In an office he believes is his, Bateman calls his lawyer Harold and frantically leaves a lengthy confession on Harold's answering machine.

The following morning, Bateman visits Allen's apartment, expecting it to be full of decomposing bodies and in the middle of a police investigation, but it is vacant, freshly painted and for sale. The realtor tells him to leave. As Bateman goes to meet with his colleagues and lawyer for lunch, a horrified Jean finds detailed drawings of murder, mutilation and rape in Bateman's office journal.

Bateman sees Harold at a restaurant and mentions the phone message he left the prior night. Harold mistakes Bateman for another colleague and laughs off the phone message confession as a joke, saying he had dinner with Allen in London days earlier. A confused Bateman returns to his friends. In a final voice-over narration, he realizes he will continue to escape the punishment he deserves, and that there has been no catharsis: "This confession has meant nothing".

List of deaths Edit

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Al the Homeless Guy Stabbed repeatedly in stomach Patrick Bateman Yes
Dog Stomped to death
Paul Allen Hacked multiple times with an axe Patrick Bateman Yes
Courtney Rawlington Decapitated Patrick Bateman No
Sabrina Unknown Patrick Bateman Yes
2 Girls Unknown Patrick Bateman No
Girl Unknown Patrick Bateman No
Christie Chainsaw fell into back in stairs Patrick Bateman Yes
Old Lady Shot in chest Patrick Bateman Yes
Police Officer Shot Patrick Bateman Yes
Police Officer Blown up in police car explosion Patrick Bateman Yes
Police Officer Blown up in police car explosion
Receptionist Shot in chest Patrick Bateman Yes
Janitor Shot in chest Patrick Bateman Yes

Cast Edit

  • Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
  • Reese Witherspoon as Evelyn Williams
  • Chloë Sevigny as Jean
  • Justin Theroux as Timothy Bryce
  • Josh Lucas as Craig McDermott
  • Bill Sage as David Van Patten
  • Matt Ross as Luis Carruthers
  • Jared Leto as Paul Allen
  • Samantha Mathis as Courtney Rawlinson
  • Willem Dafoe as Detective Donald Kimball
  • Cara Seymour as Christie
  • Guinevere Turner as Elizabeth
  • Krista Sutton as Sabrina
  • Catherine Black as Vanden
  • Stephen Bogaert as Harold Carnes
  • Anthony Lemke as Marcus Halberstram
  • Patricia Gage as Mrs. Wolfe
  • Reg E. Cathey as Homeless Man

Production Edit

Producer Edward R. Pressman purchased the film rights to Bret Easton Ellis's novel American Psycho in 1992, with Johnny Depp expressing an interest in the lead role. After discussions with Stuart Gordon to direct fell through, David Cronenberg became attached and brought Ellis to adapt the novel into a screenplay. The process was difficult for Ellis, due to Cronenberg's scene constraints and not wanting to use any of Ellis's restaurant or nightclub material from the novel. The script ended with an elaborate musical sequence to Barry Manilow's "Daybreak" atop the World Trade Center. "I'm glad it wasn't shot, but that kind of shows you where I was when I was writing the script", Ellis reflected. "I was bored with the material." Cronenberg was still listed as being attached to direct in March 1994, but with a new script by Norman Snider.

Pressman appeared at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival to pre-sell distribution rights, but to no avail. Mary Harron replaced Cronenberg as director while writing a new script with Guinevere Turner. Harron cast Christian Bale in a deal on good faith, and attached Willem Dafoe and Jared Leto in supporting roles. Development was looking to move forward following six years of rejection by Hollywood studios when independent Canadian distributor Lionsgate Films acquired worldwide distribution in April 1997. After having waited for a year, Bale and Harron were aiming to begin filming in August 1998 on a $6–10 million budget, but Lionsgate instead pursued Edward Norton and Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead role, arguing Bale was not famous enough. Lionsgate was still hoping to finalize a deal with Harron, while Bale's handshake deal without a pay or play contract was let go. Harron refused to meet with DiCaprio, displeased as she specifically chose Bale and believed DiCaprio's screen presence would have been too boyish for Patrick Bateman. She also believed the actor's reputation as a teen idol following Romeo + Juliet and Titanic would distract from American Psycho's production and tone.

Lionsgate was planning to increase the production budget to $40 million in the hopes of securing DiCaprio's $21 million asking price. At the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, a press release was issued that DiCaprio had taken the offer, which was quickly rebutted by DiCaprio's manager, Rick Yorn, who claimed the actor had simply expressed interest in the part. Yorn also wanted to make clear that DiCaprio had no knowledge of the development history under Harron and Bale. DiCaprio drafted a shortlist of replacement directors, including Oliver Stone, Danny Boyle, and Martin Scorsese. Working from a new script written by Matthew Markwalder, Stone was brought aboard, whom Harron called "probably the single worst single person to do it". The director wanted to eliminate the satire from Harron's script, emphasizing the psychological character traits of Patrick Bateman. However, Stone could not agree on the film's direction with DiCaprio, who decided to star in The Beach instead.

Bale remained committed, turning down other movie roles and auditions for nine months, confident DiCaprio would depart. Lionsgate made an offer to Ewan McGregor, who turned it down after Bale personally urged him to do so. Harron and Bale were eventually brought back under the agreement that the budget would not exceed $10 million. Bale spent several months working out by himself, and then three hours a day with a trainer during pre-production, to achieve the proper physique for the narcissistic Bateman. The actor struggled with the role until he noticed Tom Cruise in an interview on Late Night with David Letterman, being struck by Cruise's energy and "intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes". Bale also used Nicolas Cage's performance in Vampire's Kiss as inspiration for this role. Filming began in March 1999 in Toronto, Canada.

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