Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, Wall Street dealer and psychotic. He, like his peers, is completely obsessed with surfaces, narcissistic beyond all measure, and about as deep as a sheet of mylar (and his extended exegesis on the music of Huey Lewis and the News doesn’t help make him seem smarter, despite what he thinks). He rapes and murders with impunity, but after all, isn’t that the 80s ethic in a nutshell?
Brett Eason Ellis’ novel, massively reviled by people who didn’t b…ther to actually read it, had a troubled history making it to the screen, but the final result is, for the most part, very pleasing. The satire is biting, and Bale’s performance is hypnotic. The resolution is, I think, the most problematic aspect of the film. Without giving too much away, there is a sudden shift, and audiences will be forgiven for feeling confused. Director Mary Harron and her co-adapter Guinevere Turner were shooting for a certain kind of ambiguity here, and while that comes through, the shift does make Bateman’s character seem oddly inconsistent, no matter which way one reads it. Other than that, however, the picture is a savage delight.
The audio comes in a fairly standard 2.0, and a very nice 5.1 EX. Though this is not a particularly loud film, there are some good atmospheric touches, but the surround shines most with the score. The music is big and enveloping without drowning out the dialogue, and the bass is very strong.
The colours of this 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer are just great, with equally strong blacks. The image is as sharp as the extreme fashion of the characters. There is some very minor edge enhancement visible, however, and the grain, though not a real problem, is still present to a certain degree.
Harron and Turner each have their own commentary track, where they engage at least as much with the ideas of the film as they do with the making-of aspects. Most interesting is the collection of essays: “The Book,” “The Deal,” “The Film,” “The Pornography of Killing” and “The 80s Downtown” cover how the book and the film came to be, but pay special attention to to the controversy that surrounded both. All but “The Pornography of Killing” are made up of interviews with the filmmakers, critics and others, held together by a scripted narrative performed by singer Sarah Elquist. The latter is the only one on the screen for the “Pornography” essay, which is written by Holly Willis, and goes much further into critical theory than most DVDs dare. There are five deleted scenes with optional commentary from Harron, five trailers and TV spots, plus some adds for Swimming with Sharks Special Edition, The Rules of Attraction, High Tension and Undead. The scored menu has a hilarious animated intro.
A film well worth revisiting, and accompanied by very interesting, very intelligent commentary and analysis.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary
- Video Essays
- Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots