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Revisiting 'American Psycho'

25 May, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A twenty-something babysitter calls American Psycho a very “cool” movie.

That's despite the fact that the 2000 film's protagonist, Wall Street yuppie Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), rapes, murders and dismembers both friend and foe with equal aplomb.

Director Mary Harron understands the film's cult appeal and feels it is better understood today than five years ago.

“When it came out, there was so much scandal associated with the book and subject matter, it was hard for people to see the film how it was,” said Harron, who also wrote the screenplay. “People always focused on the violence. People treated the book as if [author Bret Easton Ellis] believed in murder and torture. [He] was not endorsing this kind of behavior, but was [writing] a kind of savage satirical nightmare about what was wrong with that character.”

Lions Gate Home Entertainment June 21 (prebook May 24) will release American Psycho: Killer Collector's Edition ($19.98 DVD), with deleted scenes, original trailers, Harron's commentary and three featurettes: “The 1980s Downtown,” “American Psycho: From Book to Screen” and “The Pornography of Killing.”

Harron, who just finished filming The Notorious Bette Page for HBO, credits Bale's upcoming turn as the caped crusader in Batman Begins and Reese Witherspoon's success in Legally Blonde for the film's DVD renaissance.

When a producer called Harron about directing American Psycho, she thought the subject too intense for a movie. So she read it again.

“Your mind starts working, and in 1996 enough time had passed that you could do something satirical about the 1980s,” Harron said. “Not that the movie is just about the 1980s. Excessive consumption and greed is absolutely relevant today.”

Much of Harron's commentary focuses on filming in separate cities (one chase scene actually has Bale running from a street in New York onto a street in Toronto) and setting up scenes with actor Willem Dafoe in ways so she could edit the emphasis in each take differently.

“It's fun to talk about that kind of stuff,” Harron said.

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