In this article, you will get all information regarding Mary Harron on how Stanley Kubrick inspired ‘American Psycho’

A celebrated deconstruction of the concept of the American dream, Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho is beloved in the realms of cult cinema, largely thanks to its dedicated performances from the likes of Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto and Chloë Sevigny. Harron’s story follows Patrick Bateman, an egotistical psychopath with hedonistic fantasies who inadvertently smashes the blinding illusion of the American dream to pieces.

Exploring the mind of an American psychopath with meticulous detail, Harron’s protagonist is an obsessive maniac with a passion only for personal perfection and financial gain. So narcissistic is his inner turmoil that he begins taking out his insecurities on those around him in violent acts of murder. Now an iconic scene of contemporary cinema, the moment where Bateman and his colleagues compare business cards is perhaps the greatest illustration of the protagonist’s own vapid life.

As well as radiating the subtext of the movie, the scene also does well to reflect the film’s funny bone, with Harron using humour as a tool to highlight the utter farce of modern consumerist life. In addition, Bateman, with all his businessman swagger, is a dryly comic character, unaware of the melodrama and absurdity that he lives his life by. 

Director Mary Harron sat down with Vanity Fair during their reflection of the 25 most seminal scenes in modern cinema to discuss American Psycho’s iconic axe-wielding murder scene, as well as the long-term influence of the film itself. 

“I felt the audience could handle this scene being quite comic,” Harron commented, making specific reference to the scene in question, adding, “Usually, we kept the lighting in the apartment moody—but when it came to filming this scene, I insisted we have all the lights on bright. I wanted it to be harsh and jarring”. 

Continuing, she added, “I was also thinking Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange,” likely referring to the dark comedy that exists during the moment when Alex and his gang of ‘Droogs’ rob and beat up a husband and his wife. 

Whilst the 2000 movie is loved by fans of cult cinema, it was not all that celebrated by critics, holding a mere 69% on Rotten Tomatoes among professional reviewers, in comparison to an 85% audience score. Harron recognises this too, stating, “When it came out, the movie was loved and hated in about equal measure. It was only after a few years that its reputation grew in a way I can’t explain”. 

Maybe the subtext of American Psycho was merely ahead of its time, with the psychological horrors of Bateman’s life being reflected in the reality of modern life. As Harron concludes, “I think the mixture of black comedy and horror and satire was unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and maybe that very nightmarish portrait of society and Wall Street felt more relevant as time went on”.

Mary Harron on how Stanley Kubrick inspired ‘American Psycho’

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