Thursday, May 29, 2008

Books that shouldn’t have been made into movies: American Psycho

I love reading. I will read just about anything. There is nothing quite like a good book. And nothing makes me more excited than a book I really enjoyed reading being made into a movie.

At the same time, there is nothing I hate more than books I really enjoy being made into a movie. Because, let’s be honest, we can all think of many examples of movies where something went horribly wrong with the screen adaptations of books.

Thus, I thought I’d start a new monthly section called: books that should not have been made into movies. Or more precisely: books that shouldn’t have been made into these movies.

My first pick is American Psycho. For those of you not familiar with the book/movie (how is that possible?), American Psycho (by Bret Easton Ellis) tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy young investment banker and self-proclaimed serial killer. It is set in the late 1980s in upper-class elite New York.
Bateman is preoccupied with both boring day-to-day activities, like returning video tapes, as well as committing brutal murders. What is quite unsettling and at the same time intriguing, is the fact that to him committing these horrible acts of violence, are just as mundane as going to work, returning video tapes or going to the cleaners.

Over the course of the story, Bateman slowly loses his grip on reality and his murders become increasingly violent and complex, not to mention gross. He starts to randomly slip stories about serial killers into his casual conversations, and at some point confesses these murders to his co-workers, who react as if he is joking.

I found that last part very shocking. Here you have this brutal serial killer, who is clearly losing his marbles, even confessing to his crimes and no one believes him. No one believes him, because no one really cares. It is startling to realize this serial killer is getting away with murdering all these women, because no one cares enough to stop him.

I read the book a few years before I saw the movie, and as is often the case with film adaptations from books, I thought the book was so much better. The strong point of the book for me was the way in which all these horrible crimes are described so matter of factly and mundane, happening right under everyone’s noses and no one really caring. It is in the movie too, but much less prominent.
In the book you also get an idea of how this guy’s mind works, which of course is always harder to do in a film. What I really hate about the movie though, is that at times it is so over the top. It is supposed to be scary, and sickening, you should feel like this could really happen, instead of feeling that all the blood and violence is a little silly.

If you like this sort of thing, do not watch the movie, go read the book instead!


Jen @ Daily Mish Mash said...

I saw the movie but didn't read the book. I can imagine that the book would be much better because I really did NOT enjoy this movie.

This post would be great for the Movie Madness Carnival that I am hosting at my blog. Click the link for more details and leave me a comment to let me know if you will be participating:

Natazzz said...

Jen, thanks for the invite, I'd love to take part in your MMC. Who knows, I might actually think of something new movie related to blog about...