Bale’s OTT, near-camp performance is the nearest he’s come to doing comedy. Harron was in stitches watching him: “The thing is, Bateman has no centre. He’s trying to look at other people and see how they behave.
"When I saw the dailies of Christian’s scene with Willem Dafoe in the restaurant [when Bateman has lunch with the detective tracking one of his victims] I just burst out laughing.
"Christian was so funny. He’s watching Willem Dafoe eat, watching how he’s using the salt, watching how it’s done. You know, how do you eat a steak? Christian plays him so it’s almost like a Martian come to Earth trying to pass off being human.”
The genius of the performance is that the more insane Bale makes Bateman, the more we sympathise with him. By the end, as he becomes a gibbering wreck trying to feed stray cats into ATMs, we even feel sorry for him.
Unlike his fellow bankers, anonymous clones constantly being mistaken for one another, Bateman knows that their yuppie lifestyle is essentially mad – an endless parade of designer labels that’s soulless and emotionally bankrupt.
Only the truly mad could stay sane in such a world.
Next: The Reception...