It’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.
Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to American Psycho [starting @ 1 a.m. on IFC]
Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: It’s probably not the best time to be Christian Bale. As if his infamous rant on the set of Terminator Salvation weren’t enough, the star has seen his professional reputation take a hit this summer thanks to his work in the McG-directed film; if we were to call his performance “wooden,” it would be a compliment. In fact, Terminator Salvation was such a creative misfire for Mr. Bale that it even has people wondering if he’s a legitimate movie star.
It’s a fair point. In the current Hollywood landscape, traditional movie stars are like the American auto industry: A failed and expensive reminder of a bygone era. Think of it this way: By the time August rolls around, the top-grossing film of the summer will either be an animated jaunt (Up), an adaptation of a beloved novel about wizards starring a bunch of kids and British thespians (Harry Potter), or a film about giant killer robots (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen). In none of those films does a superstar reside; the days of Toms (Hanks and Cruise) are just about over. And for Mr. Bale, maybe that’s for the best. We’ve always found him ill-suited to superstardom, if only because even his most financially successful films (cough, The Dark Knight) somewhat suck the life out of him.
This is probably why we love his performance in American Psycho so much. Mary Harron’s take on the Bret Easton Ellis novel weathered many controversies over its insane violence when it came out in the spring of 2000—if you ever wanted to see a naked Christian Bale drop a chainsaw on a fleeing hooker, here’s your chance!—but despite some flaws, this film is a borderline classic thanks almost solely to Mr. Bale’s excellence. As Patrick Bateman, he’s a live wire of maniacal energy and, frankly, this is the type of performance we couldn’t even imagine him giving nowadays. The man isn’t miscast as a movie star; he’s miscast as a humorless action star. Perhaps the time has come to let Christian have some fun again.
When we’ll probably fall asleep: If there is a glaring problem with American Psycho, it’s that it ends like the novel. But while on the page the idea of Patrick Bateman being a delusional psychotic who potentially didn’t really murder anyone works, on celluloid it decidedly does not. In the end, the movie goes off the rails and Ms. Harron can’t hold it together. So we’ll call it a night early, about forty minutes into the film at 1:40, when Patrick discusses the artistic integrity of the Huey Lewis and the News catalog with Jared Leto’s Paul Allen … before hacking him to death with an axe. We’d like to see Bruce Wayne pull off a dichotomy like that.