American Psycho the Musical Is the Best Recent Film to Musical Adaptation
I am a loud and proud fan of American Psycho in all forms because I think that Bret Easton Ellis had no idea what he was doing and that every adaptation of his novel has told a better story for Patrick Bateman as a character. Ellis was making a commentary, and his novel became a satirical masterpiece when told through the lens of literally anyone other than Ellis—a common theme for his work. The film Less than Zero was much better than his novel, and it continues to show that he has half-baked ideas that someone else needs to make into masterpieces.
That’s why I love American Psycho as a film and American Psycho the Musical so much. To me, American Psycho is not only a commentary on wealth and the elite but is also a hard look at the stigma against mental health that continues to permeate society (when adapted correctly). I have been team “Patrick Bateman didn’t kill anyone” from the first moment I came in contact with this story, and I will probably die thinking that.
But there is just something about this story and the history surrounding it that continues to fascinate me. So when Duncan Sheik and Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa teamed up to bring me American Psycho the Musical, I could not have been happier (especially since Patrick Bateman in the West End cast was the love of my life, Matt Smith). And while the Broadway show only ran for a month, it was a perfect exploration of Bateman as a character and brought Ellis’ work to life in a way he never could. So, to me, it is a perfect adaptation and the best film/book to musical adaptation I’ve seen on Broadway in quite some time.
A perfect movie to musical
Ellis’ book is dense and hard to read, not only because of its graphic nature but because Bret Easton Ellis is so in his own metaphors and story that you miss the goodness there within the story. Luckily, we have creatives like original American Psycho movie writer/director Mary Harron and cowriter Guinevere Turner, who brought Ellis’ characters to life in a way that reminded us of the messages in his novel without all of the ego that consistently ruins Ellis’ work.
But where American Psycho the Musical shines is the way it incorporates Harron and Turner’s changes with the original text from Ellis to drive home just how deranged Bateman is in his quest to be perfect. From his body to his obsession with being the best regardless of the fact that no one cares, the musical drives home time and time again that Patrick Bateman’s drive for power and wealth comes from his horrific fascination with figures like Donald Trump, rooted in sexism and racism.
Maybe that’s why the musical closed so soon. Opening in 2016 against shows like Hamilton and leading up to the 2016 election from Hell, many didn’t want to see a musical where its lead character idolized Trump, despite the message within. But god, Aguirre-Sacasa did an incredible job of driving home why we’re obsessed with Bateman as a character while still honoring the changes that Harron and Turner made.
Duncan Sheik’s music was weird and so very ’80s, and the fact that this show is lost to the horrible year of 2016 hurts my soul. I’d love for it to come back in some capacity, and I hope that one day it does. For now, I will remain the loudest and proudest fan of American Psycho the Musical.
(image: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)
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