The ''American Psycho'' star chops up a storm in the performance of his lifetime

By Troy Patterson
Updated December 22, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

”Emporio Armani and Christian Bale Invite You to celebrate American Psycho.” This was either the most cluelessly ironic press release of the year or the most viciously self-mocking promotional event ever. The fax promised that a Madison Avenue store would be ”transformed into an ’80s decadent wonderland…. Armani-clad Patrick Bateman lives in a morally flat world in which clothes have more value than skin….”’ Capital! That stuff is creepy, and it creeps toward the point. As conjured by the novelist Bret Easton Ellis and reimagined by director Mary Harron, Bateman is greed, pride, lust, sloth, wrath, envy, and gluttony bundled up in a cashmere-blend coat, and Bale gives that Wall Street fiend his dark-comic due. Going over the top and landing at deadpan, he chops up bodies with soulless zeal and flattens his abs with insane zest. His voice, soothing as daytime TV, floats on in a peppy drone, parroting empty social bromides and rhapsodizing about the music of Huey Lewis. He puts an ideally nervous smirk on the satanically handsome face of consumerism. American Psycho slays, and it’s Bale’s party.