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November 07, 2003

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is not who you think he is. This Harvard-educated Wall Streeter with the perfect skin and 6-pack abs isn't even who he thinks he is. Inside that obsessively perfect exterior is a vacuum, empty space waiting to be filled by the next batch of impulses driving him forward. He identifies with excellence and perfection, and must achieve both. His methods for doing so, however, are far beyond questionable.

It's difficult to know when and where his bloodlust first emerged or, more importantly, took a firm hold. Perhaps it was the homeless man he happened upon in the alley. Bateman spoke to him about getting a job, wondering why he couldn't better himself, and summarily gutted him (and killed his dog). Maybe the two hookers he had sex with - while admiring himself in the mirror - and the subsequent brutal experiments on them marked his turning point. Or perhaps it was the axe he buried into the head of Wall Street rival Paul Allen (Jared Leto), the culmination of a rage incited by Allen's superior reputation, success, and business card.

The only recognizable glint of humanity - of a soul - seemed to emerge when he had his assistant Jean (Chloe Sevigny) over for cocktails one evening. He learned through conversation that she was optimistic, still interested in achieving things and bettering herself for herself, not for accolades or status. Bateman told her she should go before she got hurt, revealing for the first time a human side and a sense of empathy.

Patrick Bateman does outrageous things in a search for his true self; the mundane day-to-day activities of life simply aren't fulfilling enough. His life, to this point, has been nothing of note: he has a cushy job and a cushy life with a set of friends that he felt necessary to fit in with. However, Bateman wants to fit in and be the best at the same time, a frighteningly impossible paradox that quite possibly leads to his sexual and homicidal adventures, all in search of something to fill that vacuum inside. But applying deep-cleansing face masks, espousing on the hits of Huey Lewis and Phil Collins, and quoting the likes of Ed Gein and Ted Bundy just isn't working.

Ultimately, Bateman cracks under the pressure of trying to understand why he is driven to kill. Somewhere between twenty and forty people are slaughtered; Bateman has hallucinated so many times, he isn't sure what's real anymore. His "murder" of Paul Allen is even more enigmatic. Confessing his sins brings no judgment or resolution, and Bateman is left wondering again what his purpose is. There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, a level of excellence that must be achieved, but apparently this phase of bloodlust has done nothing to reveal his true self. He still has no idea who he is.

INTELLIGENCE - 6: As a VP of a big firm on Wall Street, he's smart. As a killer, he may be just as clever.

POWER - 6: He is in excellent physical shape, obsessively so.

VILENESS - 10: Besides the murders he commits, his "experiments" with women are graphic and appalling.

SWAY - 6: His straightforward honesty is unsettling toward the people he despises, but he wilts under pressure.

PURITY - 8: If he had not told Jean to leave, he may have gone completely over the edge.

PHYSICAL - 5: He walks around looking fabulous, but becomes crazed under the strain of his madness.


Posted by Destro at November 7, 2003 09:11 AM