First, the facts: Twenty years ago Brett Easton Ellis wrote a novel called American Psycho. It divided opinion. Some of us thought it was a masterpiece. The rest, well, their opinions were as irrelevant as they were wrong. And wrong as they were a damning indictment of our species’ collective ability to disappoint, annoy and generally make me want to heat up a fork in a fan assisted oven for 3 days and drive it with such force into my perineum the operating surgeon would need a metal detector to find it.
Ten years later, Ellis’s book hit the big screen. Unlike many celluloid adaptations, Mary Harron’s excellent approximation was better received than the mother-text (to be fair, it could hardly have been received worse). So well, in fact, the film’s unambiguously comedic tone inspired a rethink amongst those imbeciles who’d branded the book a charmless carnival of amorality and Ellis’s satirical tour de force finally began to get the acclaim it deserved. It’d taken a decade for the human race to finally get the punchline.
That’s a very fine chardonnay you’re drinking... I want you to clean your vagina
Thank fuck we did. Had we not, we’d have been depriving cinema-goers some of the finest one-liners since Groucho Marx retired his cigar. And don’t even think about arguing with me. Not if you want to keep your spleen.
Harron packed so many Ellis-penned gems into 102 minutes I’ve found whittling them down to a winner nigh on impossible – the mark of an exceptional script, one that’s been directed with care and performed by an actor (Christian Bale as eponymous lunatic Patrick Bateman) so on top of his game he appears to be hovering 6ft above genius throughout. I even had to canvass opinion, let the shaved apes that pass for my friends have their say on the matter in a bid to arrive at a decision. Desperation knows no shame.
The populist’s choice would’ve been Bateman’s exquisitely deranged ego-prolapse delivered in voice-over as he rushes into his nemesis Paul Allen’s flat having butchered the bloke with an axe the night before:
"There is a moment of sheer panic when I realize that Paul's apartment overlooks the park... and is obviously more expensive than mine."
If ever a single sentence reveals all you need to know about a character it’s that one. Pathologically Shallow has never been captured more succinctly.
Then there’s, “Don’t just stare at it, eat it,” (if you’ve not seen the film, use your imagination) or, “That’s a very fine chardonnay you’re drinking... I want you to clean your vagina,” both of which could conceivably have been plagiarised from a post-meth binge Ron Burgundy.
“I have to return some videotapes,” Bateman’s Swiss Army knife disclaimer deployed whenever a swift exit from an awkward social situation is required, would surely have entered common parlance alongside half the Swingers script if it’d been set to a hipper soundtrack than Phil Collins.
But for me, after much deliberation, the Jeroboam of prestige cuvee and winner’s wreath goes to another of his priceless conversational out-shots, “You'll have to excuse me. I have a lunch meeting with Cliff Huxtable at the Four Seasons in 20 minutes,” for no other reason than it’s fucking hilarious. And the real beauty of it is you don’t even need to know the context to enjoy it.
So drink it in. Savour it. Oh, and if you haven’t already, give it a quick rinse, love. The bathroom’s that way…
Click here for more stories about TV & Film
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook