This is a continuation of a three-way comparative analysis of American Psycho the movie vs the book vs an indie parody/standalone called Banksters by Nic Wilson. Obviously, there are some epic
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
ahead. Round one is here, but let's get to round two. This is a three-way fight--book vs book vs movie!
It's like the internet!
Portrayal of Characters
Banksters has more female characters, and the side characters feel more real than the ones in American Psycho. Obviously, this is intentional, because the human cost in Banksters actually feels higher. They both have a detached prose style, but you can still get a glimpse of humanity in the first one. Like Patrick Bateman, Mark Danes is a misogynist, but his casual objectification is less grating and repetitive, and like a shark, he just doesn't care about his victims. It makes the book a lot easier to read, but the characters also stand alone from the American Psycho cast quite well. Alice and Elizabeth, in particular, are great, and his secretary, Petra, and the head of security, Julee, were both memorable, too.
The thing about the characters in American Psycho is that the detachment comes back to haunt the author--Jeannette the secretary and Luis Carruthers were fairly human, and even Courtney and Evelyn were somewhat unintentionally sympathetic, but the other yuppies are just so interchangeable and dully horrible that you don't even mind much when bad things happen to them. Again, that's the point, but it's still annoying. And poor Bethany--I liked her so much for the brief time we spent with her. It was a damn shame.
In the movie, the detachment comes across too, but the characters are still a bit better and more carefully treated, and there are fewer, too, which makes for a less confusing flow. Of course, you can also see some of the points the book is trying to make--I mean that literally; Bateman's physical similarities to his friends are clearer. Christian Bale and Willem Dafoe and Reese Witherspoon all do a great job bringing the characters to life, and they lose none of the humour from the book. Well, it's a little blunter, maybe, but it works better, and it's a fair tradeoff for all the damn torture porn in the original.
Source. I feel like Bale had too much fun with this role. Seriously. Too much fun. It's scary.
Banksters has an evil but satisfying...happy ending, I guess? I don't want to spoil that, actually, in spite of my warning, because it is the indie book and most people won't know about it. However, I will say that it was narratively satisfying.
My biggest problem with American Psycho, in contrast, was the ending--it was not narratively satisfying, it felt rushed and sloppy, and it didn't really have enough of a payoff after all the build-up. I literally threw down my phone (I tend to read on my Kindle app) and yelled, "WHAT THE PHUQUE?" when I was finished. Then I had to listen to Evil Dead: The Musical and read Charles Dickens until my soul felt cleaner. It was gross and infuriating and hopeless, and not in a way that was appreciable, either. Sure, madness narratives aren't really where you go for a happy ending, but they don't have to be letdowns either.
Now, the movie has to cut so much from the book that it's much more compact and tightly paced, and for the most part, that works to its advantage. There is a big change, though; Jean finds Bateman's crude scribbles in a dayplanner, and they don't really have a relationship. Also, Bateman's lack of resolution is left intact--but here, again, the metaphor for the corruption in Wall Street and the human cost of it, and the meaninglessness of a single person's attempts to reform all come across more clearly. It's the same, but it's better.
Over all, I think I liked the movie most, but Banksters bruised my soul a lot less, and that counts for something. Oh, they're all brutal, but I think it's a mark of style and panache if a book or movie can scare you more by doing less. The ultimate horror film, I think, would be rated PG for gore alone (Parental Guidance, for non-Canadians, is basically a G rating with a few swearwords) but leave you awake and shaking in bed for days. Banksters was disturbing in a way that lingered, and it had the least gore of all, though there is a graphic rape scene at the end of the book. I'd have to call this one a tie between the movie version of American Psycho and Banksters.
Here's the breakdown:
American Psycho--book: 4/10
American Psycho--movie: 8/10
Banksters--book only: 9/10
Basically, I only enjoyed two thirds of the experience, but it was still worth it. So, on that note, I'm going to go watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or some Jane Austen or something to cleanse my soul.
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