American Psycho, Directed by Mary Harron has been the subject of many an argument since its release in 2000. I have witnessed so many debates on reddit over Patrick Batemans psyche, its actually quite hilarious to watch. I should mention before I begin rattling on about my theories that I have yet to read the book; all of my ideas come from the film alone.
Now, it seems that there are three main theories on what Bateman did and didn't do:
- He committed all of the murders
- He committed all of the murders except for that of Paul Allen
- He committed none of the murders and was just bat sh*t crazy
In my opinion none of these are true and all of these are true. Substantial evidence is given to support each argument and this in a way disproves all three theories while at the same time proving them. Okay, don't call me crazy yet. Let me explain.
Everyone in Batemans world is completely self centred. If something doesn't directly involve them, then they couldn't care less about it. This idea of complete self absorption is inforced throughout the film through the complete interchangeableness of all the characters outside of Bateman himself. People are constantly being forgotten or mistaken for each other as they are completely interchangeable and uninteresting. They don't hugely influence Batemans life so he doesn't care about them and neither do we. It goes both ways though. They hardly notice him either as shown by Bateman's lawyers complete dismissal over Batemans confession of killing Paul Allen or people hardly noticing disturbing remarks he makes during conversation e.g. "I like to dissect women, did you know I'm utterly insane." and other charming little lines.
This is also shown through the fact that any and all suspicious actions he makes are completely over looked by the people around him. He is seen blatantly dragging a body through his hotel and out onto the street and when his friends run into him as he tries to stuff it in the boot they don't seem to notice or care. Patrick himself seems a little surprised at this as when they first approach him he's clearly anxious (fair enough considering he just murdered a guy) but that anxiety quickly fades when he realises they don't care. This running 'gag' of people not caring about anything that doesn't directly involve them escalates through the film. It even gets to the point where Patrick is able to run down a hallway naked with a chainsaw screaming and nobody seems to care.
By the end of the film it is clear the Bateman has gone completely off the deep end, but it isn't clear how far his insanity stretches. Did he really kill all of those people? And if he did why did no one care? Why did no one notice?
The answer... Who cares? It does't involve us directly. Weather or not Patrick really killed those people doesn't affect our lives. Its just a movie. And thats what makes it so brilliant. This idea of self centred-ness is completely driven home by the fact that this means nothing to us really. It doesn't matter if those people were actually killed of not, that isn't what this story is about. Its about Patrick Batemans confession. Its about him showing us all of his darkness and all of his pain and how he hides it from everyone. And how through the film he learns that he doesn't even need to hide it because no body actually gives a sh*t how he feels. Nobody gives a sh*t how anybody feels. Patrick Batemans confession means nothing. Patrick Batemans entire story means nothing. And at the same time it means everything.