“Life Is A Complete Bummer, And Then You Die”: What Happened To The Hero Of The Film American Psycho (2000)? American Psycho: The Meaning Of The Film, The Explanation & Essence Of The Ending, Plot Analysis
Country: USA, Canada
Genre: crime, drama, thriller
Year of production: 2000
Director: Mary Harron
Cast: Christian Boyle, Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe, Josh Lucas, Reese Witherspoon
American Psycho is a controversial thriller based on the book of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. The film adaptation received fairly high marks from film critics, although there were many negative reviews. In both cases, the story offers an open ending, so the meaning of the movie “American Psycho” was not clear to many. Let’s try to figure out what the author of this really black comedy wanted to say.
What is the movie about
Let’s start with the content of the movie “American Psycho” in order to understand the general essence of this intricate, but unrealistically fascinating story. So, late 80s, Manhattan, Wall Street.
Christian Bale played the role of Patrick Bateman. Frame from the film.
The main character’s name is Patrick Bateman. He holds a high position in a large investment company, lives a respectable, but incredibly gray life. Every morning he starts with self-care: face masks, body scrub, shower, exercise. Patrick clearly loves himself, and knows about 1000 exercises for the press. He regularly meets with his colleagues, spends time in various clubs and is even going to get married.
However, behind this external gloss lies the true essence of Bateman. He hates his sleek surroundings. One day this hatred spills out. One night he meets a passer-by on the street, and in the morning he brings bloody sheets to the laundry and demands that they be washed. Another evening, he strikes up a conversation with a homeless man in an empty alleyway and kills him. After that, he tramples the dog of the unfortunate tramp to death.
Patrick has an old mistress – the wife of one of his colleagues, whom everyone considers a complete loser. Bateman wants to take his crush to the prestigious Dorsia restaurant, but the manager laughingly declares that there are no vacancies. However, one of his colleagues – Paul Allen easily visits a respectable institution.
Considering that the day before Paul hit everyone with his new business card, this gives rise to fierce anger in Bateman’s soul. He decides to kill his more fortunate colleague. Paul mistook Patrick for another employee of the company – Markus Halberström, and this allowed him to work out a brilliant plan. Under the name of Marcus, Patrick has dinner with Paul, then lures him into his apartment and kills him in cold blood with an axe. Then he fakes the departure of the late Allen to London.
In the case of Allen’s disappearance, an investigation is underway and a detective appears in the company’s office, who interrogates everyone, including Patrick. However, Bateman is unstoppable. He seems to be trying to make all his perverted fantasies come true. To do this, he shoots two prostitutes to realize the adult scene seen in the adult movie. He is not even interested in sex itself, but in admiring himself. Patrick is acting tough enough, so the girls need medical help.
At the next meeting with friends in a club, Bateman tries to strangle Louis Carruthers – the husband of his mistress. However, he suddenly confesses not only his unconventional orientation, but also long-standing feelings for Bateman himself. The thirst for murder overwhelms Patrick, but he does not want to dirty himself about a homosexual. Instead, he invites his secretary to visit, but he fails to kill her.
Then he again turns to the prostitute Christie, and, together with his friend, lures her home. Here he kills Elizabeth and then chases after Christy with a chainsaw. The girl runs down the stairs, but Patrick kills her with a well-aimed throw of a tool.
Frame from the film.
After work, he tries to withdraw cash from an ATM, but the machine gives a message that he needs to insert a cat. Bateman picks up a stray kitten and tries to shove it into an ATM. This scene is seen by a passer-by who reprimands him. Patrick shoots the woman with a pistol, then flees, shooting back at the police.
Patrick is in the office, where he calls the lawyer, and confesses to him in a series of murders. The next day, Patrick goes to Allen’s apartment, where he cracked down on prostitutes, but there are no bodies. The apartment shines with fresh paint and is for sale. The realtor puts a strange visitor out the door.
During a business lunch, Bateman encounters a lawyer who is perplexed by a strange late-night call, taking it as a joke. Patrick assures that it was real. However, the lawyer states that he recently dined with Paul Allen in London, and he was alive and well. Bateman joins his colleagues in a lively discussion of Ronald Reagan.
The description of the film “American Psycho” very accurately reflects the general idea of this picture. Scattered frames seem to flash before the viewer, which are combined into a single storyline. The ending of the story is open, so it is not clear whether Bateman actually killed or not. At the same time, events can be given an unambiguous interpretation, and all events can be explained.
Ending Explanation: Is Bateman the Killer?
Let’s start with the analysis of the finale of the film “American Psycho”. Bateman unequivocally admits to the murders, but the point is that he didn’t actually commit them. Although if we turn to the content, we can assume that the hero of the film could deal with two people. This is a girl he accidentally met on the street – the first victim. And the unfortunate tramp along with the dog.
If we take this as a basis, then all other events become logical. Bateman tasted blood, but all the other deaths that are shown in the film occurred only in his imagination. The clue can be found in the illogicality of the crimes he committed.
Frame from the film.
Paul Allen is alive. He was seen by a lawyer, so this murder can be safely annulled. Shootout in the street too. Bateman never had a gun. Yes, and shots, especially at exploding police cars, look phantasmagoric. Also, do not forget about the prerequisites for this incident. In real life, an ATM is unlikely to ask you to insert a cat instead of a card. So the scene can also be safely transferred to Patrick’s imagination.
This explanation can also be applied to Kitty’s murder. In one of the scenes, Patrick shakes the press in front of the TV, on the screen of which a maniac with a chainsaw runs. Apparently it’s the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. By the way, this film was released in 1974, and in 1986 fans of the genre were able to enjoy the sequel.
Given that Patrick was a real psychopath or schizophrenic, he could well transfer what he saw on the screen to his imagination.
Therefore, the lion’s share of the murders shown in the movie “American Psycho” occur in the head of the protagonist. Only two victims are in doubt. If the girl and the tramp also “died” only in the head, then Bateman is not a murderer. However, in a broad sense, Patrick is a criminal. One day he will want something more than just fantasize, and then blood will be shed. Perhaps that is why the author of the book left the end of his work open for interpretation and comprehension.
The meaning of the film
The main idea and hidden meaning of the film “American Psycho” is hopelessness. Here it is very clearly shown how Bateman and his associates became hostages of their position. They try their best to conform to a certain dress code, so they end up looking like identical twins.
They wear the same glasses and suits, watch their appearance. These top managers even gather in the same clubs, discussing boring news.
The only thing these respectable residents of Manhattan can boast of is business cards. However, there is a pattern here as well. All business cards are the same. They have identical numbers and text. Only first and last names differ.
Therefore, successful investors go crazy in choosing paper and selecting halftones of the font, sighing enviously that someone could pick up a better combination. Suffice it to recall here that when Bateman saw Allen’s business card, he broke out into a sweat.
The same is true with personal life. Patrick is going to marry Evelyn. At the same time, he does not love his chosen one, but she loves him. This is just another tribute to tradition, when a successful person must have a reliable rear. Therefore, the wife is perceived not as a life partner, but as another accessory, along with business cards and a suit.
Reese Witherspoon as Patrick’s fiancee, Evelyn Williams. Frame from the film.
Such managers often go crazy, which, in fact, happened to Patrick. His whole being is trying to break out of this buttoned-up vicious circle. Most likely, he does not have a craving for murder in general. He just wants to do something that is not accepted in their hypocritical society.
That is why his imagination draws pictures of rape, dismemberment and group sex. He cannot afford it in reality, so he just fantasizes to his favorite music. Most likely, he does this in the office, because it is there that his secretary finds a notebook with drawings of all the murders.
A curious moment is that throughout the film, none of this fraternity does not work. Everyone, including Bateman, only splurges, trying to show that they are better than their colleagues in the craft, even in small things. In fact, they are just bums, aimlessly burning through life.
“Life is a complete bummer, and then you die,” the hero of the film admits.
By the way, in terms of mood, idea and message, the film intersects with another cult film of the 2000s – David Fincher’s Fight Club. Even the mental deviations of the heroes are similar, who were initially obedient pawns of the consumer society, but then rebelled.
The most logical explanation for the ending is an attempt to escape from your own personal hell. Even if it’s just in the imagination. However, the ending of the film “American Psycho” is open, so each viewer can see his own end of the story.