I suppose, having not read the novel (and never intending to at this point), I can't note any discrepancies between the two, and thusly anything I say is in reference solely to the movie randition of American Psycho.

This film falls, and quite easily, into the most disturbing movies I've ever seen category. It's a mindfuck, and though I could say I wish I hadn't watched it I'd be lying, because I could have left at any point during it. I didn't. I sat through the entire thing, and little parts of it made me want to cry, other parts made me wonder about life in general. Anything that can make me think as this movie did, is worth watching, but I wouldn't recommend it to any of my friends for a few reasons.

The thing that does bother me, is how on earth does someone write things like that? How do you think such terribly messed up thoughts and not be a psycho yourself? Granted, I guess it's possible to think absolutely anything and not actually want to act on it, or do it, but to meticulously describe things like that and create what I would assume is an accurate portrayal of someone who is like that.. it seems entirely too strange.

The reasons, though, that I wouldn't recommend it to my friends in particular.. it's too graphic, it's too twisted, and it reflects reality just a little too much amidst all of the insanity and disturbingly calm, settled chaos. Sometimes I think we've enough to screw our minds around without something manufactured solely to do that. Then again, maybe not.. I wonder if this node even went anywhere.
I haven't seen the film American Psycho, I've just read Bret Easton Ellis's novel of the same title, so all comments concern the book.

My take on this is that Ellis attempts a comedy of sorts, a satire about the emptiness of a Wall Street yuppy's life. This may seem outlandish when one considers the main character Bateman's campaign of misogynistic butchery, probably the most-remarked upon feature of the book. But I think this is what is intended. For example, it is impossible to find a non-humourous reading of Bateman's homage to the artistry of Phil Collins.

Ellis strongly implies to us throughout that Bateman in fact imagines these brutal murders; they are just fantasies fuelled by his designer-drug taking. In reality his life is concerned with most trivial ephemera, like getting a table at the latest fancy restaurant, endlessly flossing his teeth. It's also barely credible that he could get away with so many murders, particularly as he is fairly disorganized. We cannot really believe that his faithful cleaner washes away the evidence after each bloodbath without question. Bateman even confesses at one point but suffers no consequences.

The question then becomes: does this interpretation get Ellis off the hook for the queasy voyeuristic violence against women of the novel? I would say no, the fact that it is intended as something of a joke makes the book even more disturbing.

Although reading this nasty book was thought-provoking afterwards I really wished that I hadn't. I gave my copy away as I didn't want to keep it in the house. If you are still considering it I suggest looking at the earlier work The rules of attraction. Ellis' apparent misanthropy is already detectable, but at least we are spared the stomach-churning violence.

"No introduction necessary"

'American Psycho' is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, his third after 'Less than Zero' and 'The Rules of Attraction'. It is set in the 1980s, and concerns the misadventures of Patrick Bateman, a successful Wall Street financier who was born into money. When he is not in the office or doing deals in exclusive restaurants, he kills people. Sometimes he tortures his victims, and films their torture; he uses Mace and nail guns and axes and starving rats and microwave ovens to transform his victims into burned, lacerated corpses. He kills men, women and children, and takes great pleasure in doing so. The more he kills, the more he wants to kill.

The book was released by Random House in 1991. Simon & Schuster, Ellis' previous publisher, decided not to publish the book after reading the manuscript, fearing litigation, unwelcome controversy and poor sales. American Psycho is a difficult book. The first half of the novel is a bleak comedy of manners, a numbing catalogue of Bateman's style-obsessed life and beauty regime. It consists mostly of detailed, first-person descriptions of Bateman's clothes, of his apartment, of the brands with which he surrounds himself; he does not really understand the things he owns, he merely knows that he should have them, because he read about them in style magazines. Bateman does not have a personality. He is either dispassionate or angry, and he does not like to fail. The second half of the book introduces mass murder, each chapter of Bateman's life alternating with a monstrous, foreshadowed killing spree. In a chapter entitled 'tries to cook and eat girl', Bateman tries to cook and eat the corpse of a girl he has killed; in a chapter entitled 'kills child at zoo', he kills a child (at the zoo). Bateman is not caught or punished for these acts. No-one suspects him. No-one wants to know. There is a feeling that no-one would care if he confessed his crimes. After all, worse things happened all over the world, every day.

Given that roughly a quarter of the book consists of nothing more than emotionless, matter-of-fact first-person present tense descriptions of horrific torture, 'American Psycho' caused something of a stir. In unshockable critical circles there was a perception that the book was merely a sensationalist riff on Ellis' familiar 'blank generation' schtick, mixed in with elements of Tom Wolfe's 'Bonfire of the Vanities'. Women's groups condemned the book for misogyny, whilst consumers were repelled and attracted in equal measure by the detailed, chapter-long descriptions of Bateman's personal grooming routine, and by the notoriety surrounding the book. It remains today the kind of book which lots of people have heard of, even if they haven't read it, or have just flicked through it in the bookshop in order to see what the nasty bits are like. The book is still in print, and, although it is supposed to be a satire of the 1980s, it seemed for a time as if Ellis had predicted the late-90s dot com boom, and the overpaid, overpraised, interchangeably zany 'personalities' it bred. I used to work for an online listings directory called Scoot. The boss of Scoot was a man called John Molyneux. Just after the dot.com crash, his wife hired a hit man to kill her husband; she went to prison for it. This actually happened.

Along with 'Naked Lunch' and the works of Proust the book was long considered unfilmable; nonetheless, in 2000, BBC documentary film-maker Mary Harron directed a film version. Starring Christian Bale, grown up from 'Empire of the Sun', it was probably the best film that could be made of the book - a black comedy which caused a minor controversy, not for the violence, which was restrained, but for a short three-way sex scene which was trimmed for release in America. Bale was excellent, the direction and music were spot-on, and any film in which a naked, blood-stained man chases a woman through a hotel whilst wielding a screaming chainsaw is a good film, in my book. The film had a mixed reception, being neither rip-roaringly funny enough to become a mainstream hit nor sufficiently true to the book or to any other vision to become an art-house classic. It was a terrible shame that the book's Tom Cruise cameo (Bateman lives in the same apartment block) was not repeated.

For some unexplained reason the novel's ill-fated character 'Paul Owen' became 'Paul Allen' in the film. Whether this was a reference to the head of Microsoft's space programme, I have no idea. A cheap sequel - in name only - was released in 2001, an 'I Still Know What you Did Last Summer' teen-horror cash-in set in California, co-starring William Shatner.

Both book and film are the source of the classic pick up line, "You're a fucking ugly bitch; I want to stab you to death and play with your blood"

Thanks to Walter for pointing out that, in the original draft, I had written that 'Batman' lived in the same apartment block as Tom Cruise. Which, of course, is not true.

I at first found it surprising that this book was written in first person perspective, because early in the text the only hint of a first person narration comes around 6 pages in, as the main character Patrick Bateman responds to a question by the first character mentioned, Tim Price. This confused me, as at first I felt that Price was the central character (I had to check the blurb to think otherwise) and therefore I paid closer attention to Price’s narrative voice. The reason for this concentration on Price occurred to me as I was debating the significance of Price’s character, and I slowly began to see the connections between Patrick Bateman and Tim Price. It seems to me that Price is what Bateman wants to be seen as, and he seems he model himself in Price’s image.

As the narrator provides us with what they would like us to see, it is quite fitting that Price would be represented as the lead character initially; I feel Bateman’s character would typically want the reader to feel this. On page three Tim Price says, “I’m resourceful, I’m creative, I’m young, unscrupulous, highly motivated, highly skilled. In essence what I’m saying is society cannot afford to lose me. I’m an asset.” Bateman, seemingly listening in awe, does not respond or even offer narrative of his own. I believe that this ties in with Bateman’s presence in society, as he has to seek a model to learn how to act and to gain acceptance. This also shows that Bateman feels he does not belong; when a former girlfriend Bethany makes reference to his extremely rich family and questions his motives to work, he says, “I just want to fit in”. In relation to Tim Price and Evelyn Bateman says, “Timothy is the only interesting person I know.” (pg 22). All Bateman wants to do is fit in, however he is a killer, a psychotic; under law in society he is already an outsider and does not belong. The idea that Bateman is imitating others to conform is also highlighted in the constant reference of products (sometimes an entire chapter, such as “morning”, is dedicated to this), and the strange tendency of looking at what everyone is wearing and instantly knowing the designer (and often the price). Both of these things show that Bateman conforms to what he feels society expects of him, as he absorbs what everyone looks like and acts like.

Bateman makes a big deal out memorising information that I, and I think other readers would, find useless. This is perhaps an irony of Bateman’s character; although he thinks he is suave, cool, collected and brash, the reality is that he spends a lot of his time doing things that a normal person would see as abnormal (the killings, the endless supply of facts and the strong need to conform).

Throughout the book I gained a brief insight to Patrick Bateman’s past. His family is very rich, however Bateman has a high paying job he does not need, and has spent most of his life getting an education so he could fit in. Bateman often hints at a past shrouded in violence; he says he “raped the maid” when he was fourteen, he severed a girls head while in University and generally had killed a lot of people before the book took place. As a side note, if I had no prior knowledge to the subject matter of the book I would not have suspected the narrator of it to be a psychotic murderer until the book was roughly a third of the way through! But, such is the nature of 'American Psycho'. It is in essence a journey through a period of years of Patrick Bateman’s life, but what the reader witnesses a journey through insanity. We occasionally get the impression that Bateman is imagining things, and that some of the narrative is simply a figment of his imagination. For example on Pg 231 Bateman wonders what a waiter would do if he did something crazy, but then he says “…but since I’m really dreaming I’m able to ask…” Several chapters are also, for example “a glimpse of Thursday afternoon”, dedicated specifically to documenting this insanity. We see firsthand the ravings and senseless garble that are Patrick Bateman’s interpretation of the world around him, and most of the narrative does not make sense (for example in “a glimpse of Thursday afternoon” Patrick is subjected to shopkeepers not answering him and who instead sing a song by Madonna at him).

Patrick Bateman’s killing is not done indiscriminately; he does not kill or seriously harm those that show him genuine love, affection or concern. These are people like Jane, his secretary, and Caruthers, a gay man who has a crush on Bateman, who walks away from Bateman bruised but alive. It also seems that when the people that are affectionate to Bateman get too close to him they get hurt (Caruthers grabs his leg and gets kicked, Jane sleeps with him and gets a black eye). Bethany, his ex lover, is a good example of this – she doesn’t give in to Bateman’s sexual offer and shows real emotion towards him, asking “what’s wrong?” (a thing which other characters are not inclined to do) when he begins to act strangely. Bateman leaves her be. Bateman’s victims mostly slot in to one of two categories, the 'lower class' people who Bateman views as unintelligent, and the 'upper class' who are self absorbed. He kills those who the people around him deem as "scum", or what he believes are the people society are trying to forget: prostitutes, homeless people, taxi drivers and janitors are among them. The child the Bateman kills at the zoo (in the aptly named chapter, “killing child at the zoo”) is an example of the inferior intelligence that Bateman seems to despise, and after killing the child he remarks, “it was just so easy!”

Some 'upper class' characters such as Evelyn are subject to mental torture and tests rather than outright violence, because hurting them would go against the expectations of society (they would not be forgotten, and are supposed to be important to Bateman). This is highlighted in the scene in which Evelyn eats a urinal cake that is coated in chocolate, simply because it came in a “Godiva” box (an expensive and designer blend of chocolate). Courtney is a victim of the “higher class” who survives a long time without being murdered; she is only killed after she succumbs to sex with a prostitute and reduces herself to the same level. Paul Owen is possibly another exception to the rule. He is killed by Bateman because Bateman felt threatened by his presence; Paul Owen was loud about his conquests, a thing which seemed to annoy Bateman, and he was the proud owner of the Fisher Account. This intensify’s my view on Bateman’s general motivation to continue, as when he was presented with someone (Paul Owen) that endangered his status, they had to be eliminated for Bateman to feel secure.

Bateman’s altogether motivation can be narrowed down to sex, power, conformity/idolisation, social acceptance, fantasy and perfection. The sex in “American Psycho” is depicted much the same as the kill scenes, as the graphic detail (that often rivals pornography) is there to show the reader exactly what Bateman thinks he is doing. This is ironic because the reader will most likely assume what they are reading is true, however because it is Bateman that is writing the passage it is unclear to the truthfulness of this event and moreover anything else in the book, and may be there simply as an output for his manufactured ego. The power that Bateman seeks is through his victims. He tortures and mocks them before death, and generally shows his power over them through administering physical pain. An interesting thing to note about his victims is the fashion in which he takes power over them. The men that he kills all suffer quick, stabbing deaths (the bum in the ally, Paul Owen, the gay man on the street) while the women he kills will often be kept alive for as long as possible, and tortured in a way that is explicitly sexual and demeaning towards females on the whole. Bateman is also a sexual sadist, as in many cases he mutilates the genitalis of women and will store them away to keep for an undisclosed amount of time. The notion that Bateman is cannibalistic is seen throughout the book in the different kill scenes, as he will often lick blood from a corpse or bite a victim, however it becomes most evident in the chapter, “tries to cook and eat girl” that Bateman often has the inclination and notion to eat parts of his victims. This gives him the ultimate power, as eating his victims in my opinion is the ultimate power, and the ultimate humiliation. The need that Bateman has to conform is largely a pivotal factor of the book; most of his actions are attributed to eradicating what he feels are his social inferiors (those that his peers despise or would mock) and keeping up with everyone else (the business card incident, the latest restaurants, the fashion). He constantly strives to be accepted, and tries to convince the people around him that he is something that he is not. The idea that “American Psycho” may be fiction within a fiction is quite interesting. The general idea behind this is that “American Psycho” is simply one big fantasy of Bateman’s, with actual events lining the lie. This would reinforce the apparent intention of the Ellis, which is satirical (this would be saying that the 80s was a lie). It would also explain Bateman’s constant reference to his seemingly immaculate appearance, his daily cleaning procedure (in “morning”), his incredible health and level of fitness (which is quite obviously far from incredible); the book could just be one huge ego boost!

Alternative Theory

Firstly, this is one of the greatest films I have ever seen, I loved it the first time I watched it. I sat transfixed to the screen enjoying every second......yada yada yada, yeah yeah so I liked it, join the fucking queue mate.

Some time afterwards I discussed it with a couple of people, well one actually. He banged on about how Patrick Bateman had imagined all his murders and fantasized everything. This is the conclusion that everyone here seems to have come to as well, and is probably the correct conclusion.

However, my reasoning was different and I had drawn a completely different conclusion (how many more times do you think I can fit the word 'conclusion' into this WU). Maybe because I hadn't read the novel beforehand, I don't know. My thoughts where this......

Patrick Bateman did actually murder all those people, Paul Allen included. He had managed to get away with it because he had used Paul Allen's flat to carry out most of the murders and store the corpses. Paul Allen's family then discover all the corpses in his flat and believe him to be responsible and thus, this is the reason why he has gone missing, to avoid imprisonment. His rich and influential family then organise a cover up, clean his apartment and put it on the market, at which point Patrick Bateman comes in. The suspicious way the 'estate agent' acts towards Patrick Bateman, asking him to "leave and cause no trouble" made me think this, honest guv.

My theory slightly falls apart when at the end of the film Patrick is trying to confess to his lawyer who says he can't have killed Paul Allen because he had lunch with him in London a couple of days ago. However, I have a back-up theory for this. There are points during the film in which people get mixed up as to who they are addressing. Patrick is mistaken for someone else about twice, so my theory is that his lawyer has mistaken someone else for Paul Allen.

So if you're sitting there wondering how I got from one case affairs to the other, ie what the fuck am I babbling about. Basically I'm saying Patrick Bateman got away with it because people thought that Paul Allen did all the murdering.

This is probably completely and utterly WRONG! But you gotta give me credit for putting forward another theory and make you think about it....no.....well screw you guys, I'm going home.

It doesn't matter if Patrick Bateman killed people in the book/movie American Psycho. This concept is fairly important to the central point of the entire story- Everyone is so self-centered and makes so many assumptions based on the constructed, artificial society in which they live that they couldn't believe Bateman a murderer regardless of whether he killed or not.

This is similar to the more heavy-handed approach that the film Gattaca takes- people in the advanced society could not believe that "one of their elite" could be a fake, a killer.

Merely because the point is made more subtely in American Psycho doesn't mean it isn't there. Bateman tries to confess at one point, and consistently puts himself at risk of discovery. But this is only half a commentary on his character. The other half is a commentary on his society that essentially ignores everything but the self. They wouldn't believe it even if he is a killer.

Here is my personal take on a few American Psycho myths and longstanding controversies (please note that these theories are solely based on my experience reading the book and watching the movie, both a long time ago). Oh yea, and there are spoilers too (duh!), so do not read further if you've not read the book and intend on doing so.

1. American Psycho/Bret Easton Ellis is a misogynist book/writer

This has been by far the most important issue with the book upon its release: many feminist associations directly attacked the book for its content. NOW especially led boycotts and organized protest against the book's "glorification of misogyny"...

I must say I did not even considered that aspect when I first read it: it should be rather obvious to anybody with a bit of critical sense, that the thoughts and acts of a novel character do not necessarily mirror the ideas of its author or the message he wants to convey, quite the opposite actually. Even though Bateman is a misogynist killer, brutally murdering women in all sorts of gruesome ways, that hardly makes the book a misogynist one... It should be fairly easy to discern denunciation from justification, I think this is a clear example.

Of course, for the sake of the novel, Ellis has to make the main character somewhat appealing, or at least give him enough charisma that the reader can feel some kind of limited empathy toward him. This multi-dimensionality is what is cruelly lacking from the movie: afraid to seem like they are condoning the acts, the directors safely stepped back and gave it more of a third-person point of view. In both case, it is not like Bateman's vacuous and ridiculous life is pictured under a very positive light overall: he is a bad guy, doing mean things, no question about that. Therefore his acts have to be seen as an illustration of evil, not a glorification... No reason to think Easton intended it otherwise.

Now I also read in some article that feminist organizations actually reproached Ellis his depiction of women, which makes more sense from an intellectual standpoint. Indeed, most women characters are either money-hungry bourgeois bimbos or peroxide blond airheads. But on the other hand, the only redeemable character in the whole story is also a woman: Bateman's secretary with her honesty, sweetness and simplicity is the only one who even manages to escape her boss's senseless murderous impulses.

It is worth noting that the producers of the movie version were obviously scared senseless by the possibility of such an attack against the movie and therefore picked two strong radical feminist women to write the scenario and direct the movie. This smart move avoided them most of the criticism the book got, but also made for a heavily reworded message and one-track tone: Bateman's strange and complex character is replaced by a unilaterally ridiculous buffoon and any of the original creepiness in the book is channeled into easily comical kitsch situations. This make, in my opinion, for a rather interesting movie, but with none of the breakthrough quality of the original material (I am aware, though, that a literal adaptation in today's mainstream film industry was seriously out of the question).

2. The whole book and everything described by Patrick Bateman is all just a dream

My opinion, but: No.

Among my biggest issues with the movie (which was, in other aspects not such a bad adaptation) was the direct implication toward the end that everything we had just seen was the disturbing, yet harmless, product of a slightly psychotic yuppie's imagination: due to excessive drug use, mild predisposition and too much time to fantasize...

Well, this "t'was all just a dream" theory is never seriously alluded to in the book. To me, one of the main points in the book was precisely to show you how easily Bateman's acts could go unnoticed in modern society. The fact that he keeps dropping hints, makes a full confession over the phone or that his victims seem to reappear mysteriously in other parts of the world is just a statement about the egotistical blindness of these people: they cannot bring themselves to really look at anybody/anything else than themselves. They see Bateman and do not try for one second to go past his mask, even when he provocatively gives them a clear glimpse of his sick mind. It is also a society where every characters are more or less identical suit-wearing yuppies: nobody ever seem to get anybody's name right and employees of a same company are constantly being mistaken for each other.

In such a context, it is not surprising to see their disappearance going mostly unnoticed (as a point of reference, we are given the case of Tim Price, whose sudden unexplained absence barely raises a comment from his "friends").

It is clear nonetheless that Bateman's psychosis steadily increases during the whole movie. The state of decay of his apartment, his bouts of remorseful confessions and his increasingly careless killing fashion ought to get him eventually caught... In typical two-bit folk criminology, he desperately craves attention. And maybe that's what the final "this is not an exit" message is all about: he won't be getting any by acting that way, people just don't care enough. Or maybe it simply refers to the fact he will not eternally get away with it.

The real estate agent's attitude at Owen's former apartment goes this way too: she is obviously spooked by his mildly strange demeanour and white lies, indicating some really nasty stuff is linked to this apartment (although the family or the estate agency obviously tried to avoid unnecessary publicity on this), but she prefers not to make any waves and simply ask him to leave and not to cause any "trouble". To be fair, she might also be frightened for her life, but she does not seem to think he is truly the murderer either: whatever his connection to the affair might be and despite the possibility he might be directly implicated, she'd rather see him go discreetly than see him arrested.

3. This book is a caricature of the whole 80's yuppie subculture

Maybe.

Endless discussions about whether this is all a depiction of Reagan 80's, early 90's, New York bourgeoisie, finance shark yuppies, or even a prophetic vision of the late 90's dot.com era.

In the end, there is obviously some strong tie-ins between the ultra-capitalistic lifestyle of other "normal" characters and Bateman's specialization in physical violence. It is pointed numerous times that his acts are a mere metaphor of this lifestyle, the ultimate concretization of the Financial world "kill or be killed" ethos (cf. the famous "mergers and acquisitions/murder and executions" line). These ideas are not excessively new ones, not the appanage of a specific era, and they have not disappeared over the past decade. Capitalistic and socialistic trends in societies tend to interweave and surface alternatively, depending on lots of economical and sociological factors.

No matter what, 80's culture is at the heart of the story: every aspects of this era (coke, 80's fashion designers, Republican politics...) are present in the plot, whole chapters are devoted to a semi-serious analysis of a few seminal eighties acts (Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and the News etc). All the cultural hints and name-dropping (most famous place/people names mentioned in the book were real, others were thinly disguised allusions to existing ones) firmly point to a specific class of people (wealthy yuppies working in finance corporations) in a specific location (Manhattan) during a specific era (the roaring eighties)... That being said, it certainly can be applied a lot of other contexts (although with much less realism, in my opinion).

In conclusion, I think this book does not deserve to be vilified as it was, at least not for the reasons I have seen so far. It is equally unfair to treat its theme lightly by making it mere imaginary productions of a sick mind, while overlooking the strong social criticism. Whether you like it or not (I cannot say I truly enjoyed it, although there was no way I could drop the book once I started it), this book is definitely an essential part or contemporary literature, both in terms of stylistic innovations, extreme content and vitriolic satire of late 20th century culture.

American Psycho, directed by Mary Harron, was released in 2000 - based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. Featuring scenes involving the cold-blooded murder of innocent people, it was a highly controversial movie. If one can look past this however, it features a simply stunning performance by the relatively unknown Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman (the psycho of the film's title,) as well as excellent direction and a thought-provoking plot.

Patrick Bateman, a wealthy young businessman who works on Wall Street, is not all that he appears to be. Despite his apparent charm and good looks Patrick is a man who enjoys inflicting pain and murdering others. At the same time, he believes in taking care of himself, putting incredible effort into what he wears and what he does to his own body. The charm and good looks are not just things that he possesses, they are things that he obsesses over possessing.

The film's opening scenes, despite their brevity, can actually give the reader an incredible glimpse into what do expect for the rest of the movie. Classical music plays to the movements of what appears to be drops and streams of blood. A butchers knife appears, and then thumps down into a piece of steak - it seems that it was not blood after all, but raspberry coulis being spread across a plate that a meal is being prepared onto. This really sets the tone for what lies in store - things are not what they appear to be despite how much you may, just like the characters in the movie, believe them to be.

The first half of the film has been described as a comedy of manners, showing Bateman interacting with those around him in a way that makes him appear as normal as any one of them. Throughout this however, one can see glimpses of the fact that he is not quite as normal as he appears - the incredible effort he puts into his appearance for instance, and shouting at a barmaid "You're a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and play around with your blood." As the film progresses it descends further into a blood-fest, just as Bateman himself loses control.

The juxtaposition of the scenes of tranquility with the scenes of carnage and violence is done exceedingly well. For instance; in a dark alley Bateman stabs a homeless man because he feels that they "don't have anything in common," and then in the next scene Bateman is massaged by a young Asian girl who compliments his skin. Another scene ends with Patrick screaming triumphantly at a hooker lying dead with a chainsaw in her side, cutting to Patrick at an uptown restaurant with his fiancee. As the film progresses and Bateman loses his grip on his sanity, the film itself reflects this in the number of violent scenes. Even the scenes which one expects to be peaceful may not turn out to be - Patrick intending to murder Carruthers in the hotel bathroom for example, simply for having such an elegant business-card.

The film's message is one of anti-consumerism, depicting a man who is obsessed with having everything that he is told he is meant to have. Yet even having it is not enough, he has to be better than everyone else - the suits, how he takes care of his skin and body, the apartment. Even worrying about not having a good table at a restaurant is enough to upset him to the point he claims to be on the verge of tears. He "wants to fit in," and he goes about it by reading magazines and watching television to find out exactly what it is that he should care about.

There is also a lot of discussion as to whether the more violent events of the film actually took place, or whether Patrick simply imagined it all. While I do not feel that this is a particularly important distinction I will add my own argument for the sake of those who do. I feel that not all of the murder's actually took place. I do not doubt that Paul Allen was murdered (just for being able to get a reservation at a better restaurant, as well as having a more elegant business card,) but I do believe that the final scenes were meant to be imagined. Party because of the excessive amount of damage he managed to do with one pistol without being shot himself, but mostly because of the ATM which flashed "Feed me a stray cat."

I myself thought that the movie was fantastic, but like so many other people I felt that some of the scenes of violence and depravity were simply too over-the-top. However, if the violence was left out or even just turned down a notch, the film would simply not have been so powerful. The incredible lighting and sets, a soundtrack that is used to extremely good effect in creating the atmosphere of the film, and a cast who did put in excellent performances all round have managed to make this movie one of my personal favorites.

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