Bret Easton Ellis Explains Why 'American Psycho' Is Unadaptable, Talks About His Film With Kanye West

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by Kevin Jagernauth
August 8, 2013 11:30 AM
5 Comments
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While Mary Harron's Christian Bale-starring adaptation of "American Psycho" has become a cult favorite, author Bret Easton Ellis has never been a fan of her movie. While not exceedingly critical, he's long said his novel is unfilmable, and currently doing the rounds for "The Canyons," he again underscores how the core of 'Psycho' was compromised when it was brought to the big screen.

"I also don’t think really works as a film," he told Film School Rejects about the film. "The movie is fine, but I think that book is unadaptable because it’s about consciousness, and you can’t really shoot that sensibility. Also, you have to make a decision whether Patrick Bateman kills people or doesn’t. Regardless of how [director] Mary Harron wants to shoot that ending, we’ve already seen him kill people; it doesn’t matter if he has some crisis of memory at the end."

"How do you adapt 'The Iliad'? How do you have that experience be the same as an experience that was conceived as a book?," he continued. "You’re getting a watered down, secondhand version of it, in a way. If you’ve written a novel, you’ve written a novel because it is a novel."

The irony here is that Ellis recently wrote the script for the "American Psycho" parody/homage commercial for Kanye West's Yeezus. We suppose there are exceptions to every rule. But anyway, that meeting bore more collaborative fruit. A week or so back, it was revealed that Ellis was writing another script for West, and chatting with Vulture, he spilled a little more on the mystery project. "All I can say is that it's a feature script and that we just finished talking deal points, more or less," he said. "I can't talk about it, but it's based on an idea that he has, and I'll be writing that soon."

A Yeezy/Ellis jam? We can only imagine what the pair are cooking up. We'll be curious to see how it develops and what it actually turns out to be.

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5 Comments

  • Meho | August 8, 2013 8:25 PMReply

    Surprise surprise he doesn't like a movie thats directed by a woman.

    BTW never read any of his novels nor do I want to. I only know him through "American Psycho". A great film.

  • Jack | August 8, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    Author in "being unsatisfied with film adaptation of his work" shocker. No need to criticise him - it's natural that he would have a close attachment to such a project. He's spoken in the past about how scarily intense it was writing particularly the parts with the graphic violence. I know the film's great - who cares if he doesn't think so?

  • Y Billions | August 8, 2013 12:22 PMReply

    Talk about biting the hand that introduced most people to his work. Fuck you, dude, American Psycho isn't the Illiad. I bet Mary Harron's Lifetime Anna Nicole movie is still better than The Canyons.

  • CB | August 8, 2013 12:10 PMReply

    He seemed a lot more supportive back in 2000 when he and Mary Harron and Christian Bale were guests. I've written an A+ English paper on the novel and I'm a massive fan of the film. Besides featuring a towering performance by Bale (that has really joined the pop culture pantheon of the Tony Montanas, The Dudes, Tyler Durdens, Hannibal Lecters, etc.), Harron actually GETS the novel; it's a post-modern, satirical analysis of the superficiality, greed and shallowness of the 1980s yuppie culture. Ellis uses Bateman's serial killer lifestyle as a backdrop to explore how far the yuppies were willing to go in order to get acclaim, attention, recognition, respect and satisfaction manifested in expensive apartments, exclusive clothes, restaurants, products, fitness work, etc. The actual horror is not somebody getting axed in the face, it's the decadent shallowness and materialistic me-culture that you cannot escape, quoting Dante's inferno: "This is not an exit"! It's the "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" of the 20th century. Sadly, its themes are still relevant in this fame-hungry, Facebook-Like-hungry, self-promoting modern age. God bless.

  • Michael O | August 9, 2013 9:45 AM

    Um, "This is not an exit" references No Exit by Sartre, not Dante. Nice job on the A+ though.

    I don't understand why Ellis thinks there's a difference between reading about him killing people and seeing him kill people. Either can be ambiguous, given the right storytelling, which Harron certainly gives it. And the movie is far superior to the book because, among other things, one doesn't have to get through endless tedious descriptions of what everyone is wearing (though tedium is the point, it's still tedium).

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