Movie vs book: American Psycho


Bret Easton Elise published American Psycho in 1991 and it has sold over a million copies, marking it as an international bestseller. In 2000, the book was adapted into a movie making over $ 34 million at the box office. Needless to say, American Psycho is easily a cult classic in today’s era.

American Psycho follows a young, 27 year old man named Patrick Bateman. Patrick Bateman is a young, psychotic, delusional, handsome man who works for a Wall Street investment company called Pierce & Pierce. The story follows Bateman’s life as he unfolds from a rich, materialistic, and egotistical man into a psychotic serial killer who kills and does unspeakable things to people to fulfill his inner desires.

The Book

Although the book is good, it’s definitely a hard read for a multitude of reasons. For one, the book starts out slow and somewhat boring, but it picks up later on. The book also has very gruesome and disturbing scenes which may be hard to read for some people. For example, the book describes a scene where Patrick Bateman murders a homeless man and his dog in extreme detail.

The Movie

The movie does a great job in taking the main points from the book and implementing it into a film. It stars Christian Bale, who does a great job playing Patrick Bateman’s psychotic and delusional character. Like the book, the movie is also quite graphic, with lots of disturbing images that almost caused the movie to have an NC-17 rating.

What’s the difference?

Both the movie and the book are great pieces of work; however, there’s still a lot of difference between the two. First, the layout of the book is completely different than the movie. The same events in the book happen in the movie but at different times. For example, the movie begins at a dinner where Patrick Bateman is surrounded by his college friends talking. However, the book starts with the dinner between Patrick Bateman and Evelyn’s cousin, which doesn’t happen until later in the movie.

I found when reading the book that it started with focusing on the satirical view of consumerism and materialism. Patrick Bateman talks about people’s suits and what they are wearing. He uses this information to develop his opinions about that person, showing that he sees everything as a commodity. The book also addresses controversial topics like race, sexism, and homelessness. The book is great for someone who is willing to wait for the blood and gore that book provides.

The movie has subtle differences from the book. The movie still has a focus on consumerism and materialism, but it isn’t as strongly represented as it is in the book. For me, it seems the movie focuses more on Patrick Bateman’s descent into madness. The movie also shows more of the feeling of alienation than any other theme. Now don’t get me wrong. The movie still shows the main themes of the book like racism and sexism, but it’s not as heavily represented as it is in the book.

Which is better?

The movie is better for people who are just trying to have a casual understanding of the plot. The movie is a simple view of the insanity that the book provides. The story’s expressions of alienation and detachment from reality are done well. However,  the movie doesn’t do a good job of showing the political and satirical takes on modern day America. 

If you’re looking for a more in depth view of the story, then the book is the right choice for you. The book can be satirical and funny and yet feature some of the most sadistic scenes as well. However, the book has a very slow start. At least the first 200 pages are mostly focused on the materialistic ideas and Patrick Batemans life. But if you’re willing to wait the book gets really good near the end.

Choosing between these two pieces of work is really hard. When it comes down to it, I would rather watch the movie than read the book. The book is a slow build up, which is hard to get through; however,  the movie is a comedic and more casual experience than the book.