American Psycho: Print vs. Movie

By: Roberto Galvan and Jay Fontenot

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Novel

Characters

- The man that Patrick Bateman is after, at first and murders with an axe, is Paul Owen and he seems to be very obsessed with the Fischer account, and by extension, him.

- His secretary is Jean and he dreams of a normal life with her, as well as spends a lot of time with her outside of the office, and believes that she is in love with him. He thinks that he will "probably marry her some day."

- Evelyn, Patrick's fiancé, spends time with Patrick going out to dinners and spending the summer with him.

- Patrick Bateman is a man who is very self centered and superficial, caring about outward appearances to an extreme. He is easily made uncomfortable, likes to listen to music to distract himself, and enjoys to have sex with women, torture women after sex, and kill men and women. In reality, he despises the superficiality of the people he surrounds himself with, and also his own, and finds he can't bring himself to kill those that do show affection toward him, Jean and Luis.

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Plot

This novel focuses on the everyday, moment-to-moment life of Patrick Bateman, from morning facial to bedtime. The reader sees the life of Patrick Bateman through his own eyes and narration, and that is what "The Tech" believes made this book so interesting and successful in the long run; it shows what he feels, thinks, and does, and his progressively worsening insanity, from an apparently normal man to one totally off the hook. He kills people for fun, even experimenting with eating their body parts at times, cooking and preparing them in several different ways. The audience then sees how Bateman realizes he has become insane and how no one else sees what he sees and then at the end of the book, how he goes back to living a normal life once again, like he always has.

Setting

The story takes place in Manhattan New York in the early 1980's. In the novel Patrick Bateman never spends any time in the office, which portrays his decadent and ironically work-free lifestyle. Instead, he spends all of his time in his apartment, going out to clubs, restaurants, Pierre Hotel, and the gym, having fun socializing, taking care of himself, and murdering and torturing others.
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Conflict (Society v Self) (Self v Self)

Patrick Bateman is a wealthy man who works on Wall Street as a Vice President for a big company named "Pierce & Pierce", which he does not like one bit nor finds it interesting at all. However, he keeps his job there, despite a lack of financial need to, because he wants to "fit in." He also does not like the people in which he hangs out with, but continues to hang out with them because they are the in crowd, and hanging out with them is how he fits in. He despises the superficiality of the society around him, and because of his own superficiality, he despises himself as well. It's due in part to this contempt that he does the despicable things that he does, and it's only when he finds affection, something beyond the superficial vanity that plagues most of his colleagues, that he finds himself unable to harm or kill. This is demonstrated with the characters Luis and Jean.
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Theme

Appearance vs. Reality is a reoccurring theme throughout the novel, American Psycho. The main character, Patrick Bateman, creates the appearance of an intelligent, handsome, hard-working, respectful, worldly, and caring man. He seems completely normal, enjoying nights out with his friends and wife on numerous occasions. However, that is not who Patrick Bateman is in reality. The real Bateman is an insane psychopathic killer who has no self control whatsoever. This theme is apparent throughout the novel, but most prominently in the scene with the hooker, Christie, where she finds that the wealthy and respectful man is fake, once Bateman proceeds to torture her and Tori, later murdering them both.

Film

Characters

- Patrick Bateman, at the beginning, is after Paul Allen (Owen in the novel) and the obsession he has with him and the Fischer account is less prominent, but he still ends up killing him with an axe.

- His secretary is Jean and they see each other in the office all the time, but only see each other once outside of the office and they do not leave Patrick's apartment, and it is never mentioned that he feels that she loves him or that he thinks he'll ever marry her.

- Evelyn, Patrick's fiancé, spends very little time with Patrick, only seen together in a taxi going to a dinner with friends, at the dinner, and at a club. All in which they barely talk to each other.

- Patrick Bateman's character is very similar to that of the novel, though his want or affection is less clearly demonstrated, as he never goes to dinner with Jean, and nearly kills her in his apartment. Bateman's encounters with Luis are also downplayed, which ultimately takes focus away from the value he puts on affection.

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Plot

The film depicts the life of twenty-six-year old Patrick Bateman living in New York. It demonstrates the life of Patrick through his eyes, with less detail than the novel does, on what he does from the moment he wakes up: working out and using a facial until the moment he falls asleep. And as said by the New York Times, "'American Psycho,' a more ambitious, far more confident film, salvages a novel widely loathed for its putative misogyny and gruesome torture scenes by removing its excess fat in a kind of cinematic liposuction." The film shows how he does all that he does, and goes out with who he does, even though he doesn't like them, in order to continue with his lifestyle. The audience then sees how Bateman transforms into a mentally unstable and psycho man, killing multiple people for no logical reason and how he disrespects girls, especially when having sex with them. Later, the viewer sees how Bateman finally realizes that he has become insane and becomes paranoid by what he does while no one else, including his lawyer, believes (or even acknowledges) anything he says. He ultimately ends up giving up on everything, only hoping to inflict his pain on others and allow none of them to escape.

Setting

The story takes place in Manhattan New York in the early 1980's. In the film, Patrick Bateman spends quite some time in his office, however, he is never seen doing any work; he's rich, so he doesn't need to. Outside of his office, he spends most of his time at his apartment, at restaurants, and at clubs.
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Conflict (Society v Self) (Self v Self)

Patrick Bateman is an extremely wealthy twenty-six-year old man who works on Wall Street at Pierce and Pierce as the Vice President. He hates his job, but continues to work in order to continue to fit in. He also continues to hang out with the people he hangs out with to continue to fit with everyone and with society even though he does not like them one bit. Bateman also faces the conflict of self v self as he becomes utterly insane and cannot stop himself from murdering people. Time and time again, with neither mercy nor hesitation, he murders people like Paul Allen, Christie, Tori, Tiffany, Elizabeth, and many others. He battles himself with this dilemma and finally realizes he has become insane at the end of the film and gives up on himself.
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Theme

Appearance vs. Reality is theme that is seen over and over throughout the film, American Psycho. Patrick Bateman makes himself appear as if he is a strong, intelligent, respectful, and wealthy man who is completely sane and enjoys going out at night. However, in reality Patrick Bateman is an insane psychopathic killer who has no self control over himself. This theme is illustrated throughout the film, for example, he makes Jean think that he is a strong, wealthy, respectful, and charming man, but then she sees the drawings and things he is hiding and realizes that Patrick is actually utterly insane and not the man she once thought he was.

What integral scene in the novel was removed from the film? How does this affect meaning?

In the original novel, Bateman actually did have dinner with his secretary Jean, and he even had brunch with her once more, and had expensive gifts delivered to her on Valentine’s day. All of this is cut from the film, and in the film the last scene they really have together is at his apartment, before they would have gone to Dorsia’s. He nearly kills Jean, but instead tells her to go home, possibly hinting at something the novel makes much more obvious, but is almost absent from the film. That is, Bateman hasn’t felt real affection from anyone lately, possibly not in a long time, and so he doesn’t really know how to deal with it, and possibly he wants it. It’s what stopped him from killing Luis Carruthers like he planned to, and it’s why he’s so awkward with Jean in all the scenes that were cut from the film. The dinner scene is integral to the novel because it establishes Bateman’s feelings about affection, and the possibly real relationship between him and Jean.


Why might the director have approached the film the way he did? Is it for the betterment of the work?


The director might have approached the film the way he did to make it more appealing to the audience. Even though the movie was very violent, gory, and sexual, the book was even more. Therefore, the director of the film, Mary Harron, decided to leave out and or tone down many of the very graphic and detailed sex scenes and murders from the book in order to bring it down to the hollywood level and to keep it appropriate for theatres and for the audience with still maintaining its initial touch to it. It is for the better of the work because it allows for it to not be too or extremely gruesome so that people are still willing to watch, because if it would have been exactly like the book, it would have been too much and the movie might have not been a great success getting an 85% user score and 67% critic score.

Novel vs. Film?

As said by "movieline" American Psycho is by far the most controversial work that Bret Easton Ellis has written, and yet when it comes to the adaptations of his novels, Mary Harron's 2000 film, is the most critically acclaimed and well-regarded. Many just like "movieline" feel that American Psycho is an extremely faithful adaptation from the book to the movie. A lot of the dialogue and scenes are taken straight from the book, which makes for a smooth and successful transition and is part of what made the film extremely popular and revolutionizing.
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