Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 18
  • Drama, Thriller
  • 2000
  • 101 mins

American Psycho

Film4 American Psycho


Mary Harron ably transforms Brett Easton Ellis' disgusting satire into an amusing, broad black comedy.


Director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) seems to press all the right buttons for this film based on Easton Ellis's fabulous but genuinely horrifying book.

Briton Christian Bale is perfectly cast as Patrick Bateman, the titular anti-hero, a 1980s Wall Street yuppie whose self-obsession rings painfully true. He's exquistely dressed and buffed to perfection, his appearance representing his values. Well, superficially. When he dons an apron and selects a large kitchen knife his inner identity comes to the fore.

Where the novel was exquisitely sick, the film version necessarily skips over Bateman's more creative ways of dispatching his victims, and his fantasies. Arguably, this glosses over Ellis' finer points. Harron, who also co-scripted with Guinevere Turner, instead incorporates a fine element of slapstick in lieu of Ellis' more literal stomanch-churning descriptions (so no face-drilling; instead we're treated to the sight of Bale chasing a victim with a chainsaw). Plus, there's the running joke of Bateman admitting to his proclivities in conversation - but as everyone is equally self obsessed, they don't listen and no one hears ("I'm into murders and executions" he declares of his professional concerns).

A glimpse of the book's more elaborate satire also shines, though. Bateman's lecture on the superiority of Genesis with Phil Collins as opposed to Peter Gabriel is enough to make anyone scream in absolute terror.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis, Willem Dafoe, Matt Ross, Christian Bale, Jared Leto
  • Director: Mary Harron
  • Screen Writer: Guinevere Turner, Mary Harron
  • Writer (Story): Bret Easton Ellis
  • Producer: Christian Halsey Saloman, Chris Hanley, Edward R Pressman
  • Photographer: Andrzej Sekula
  • Composer: John Cale

In a nutshell

A brave adaptation of a bracing book.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Thunder Island

    Thriller. A hit man (Gene Nelson) is hired to kill a former Caribbean dictator. He abducts a couple and their boat to reach the despot's island, but then his plans go badly wrong.

  • Film4

    The Enchanted Forest

    An old man raises a young boy who became lost in the woods, teaching him about life and nature

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF: five favourites

    Elena Lazic reports from the Toronto International Film festival on her five favourites of the fest. The Lobster Yorgos Lanthimos' success in realising the usually disastrous combination of farci

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF: five favourites

    Manuela Lazic reports from the Toronto International Film Festival on five favourites from the fest. The Witch What if the sorceresses and deadly spells in which people believed so fervently in th

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register