Kerry Hayes
EW Staff
February 11, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

American Psycho

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
103 minutes
Wide Release Date
04/14/00
performer
Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Justin Theroux
director
Mary Harron
author
Guinevere Turner, Mary Harron
genre
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A-

If there’s one thing Harron learned from Patrick Bateman — the titular Wall Street broker (Bale) who maims and murders for fun — it’s that filmmaking can be brutal. First, the director and Bale were temporarily dropped from ”Psycho” last spring, when Lions Gate offered Leonardo DiCaprio $20 million to star (he declined), and now the studio must trim a three-way sex scene to downgrade its original NC-17 rating to an R.

Predictably, perhaps, product placement also proved a tad difficult; Harron wanted to blanket the movie with name brands (in keeping with Ellis’ label-heavy 1991 novel), but companies like Tiffany & Co. and American Express refused permission. ”I think we all underestimated the notoriety of the book,” she says. Even Bale, who had read only excerpts of the novel before receiving the script, was wary at first: ”I wasn’t excited about getting it. But I read it and found it incredibly funny.”

Indeed, Harron focuses more on ”Psycho”’s comedic look at 1980s materialism; while the film is bloody, the carnage is primarily off camera. ”Most of it is social satire,” she explains. ”It’s less violent than ‘Braveheart,’ I can tell you that.” Rest assured, queasy filmgoers: ”I watched it with my mom,” says Bale. ”She was crying with laughter. It was SUCH a relief.” BUZZ FACTOR: 8

Go to the official website.

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