Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on what makes the business card scene in American Psycho so effective.
If you throw a dart at American Psycho — or, perhaps more appropriately, a chainsaw — you’re liable to hit an iconic scene.
There’s the moment early in the film when Christian Bale‘s uber-narcissist Patrick Bateman slowly peels off his morning facemask. It’s a delightfully on-the-nose move for an image-obsessed Wall Street suit who moonlights as a serial killer. And who could forget the up-tempo ax-murder of Paul Allen (Jared Leto)? He sits idly — and drunkenly — by as Bateman covers his apartment in plastic and waxes poetic about Huey Lewis and the News.
But if there’s one part in American Psycho that has been branded into the cultural consciousness, it’s the business card scene. The moment is iconic and quotable. And it perfectly encapsulates the film’s hilarious and often horrifying satire of 1980s vanity and excess. On paper, it is deceptively simple: Wall Street coworkers compare business cards. But it’s in the details that director Mary Harron is able to craft an anxious and absurdist scene out of a simple conversation.
Because we’re witnessing the exchange from Bateman’s warped perspective, corporate competition turns into a violent, maddening duel. The video essay below teases out the various cinematic elements that contribute to the scene’s effectiveness. Both as a joke and as a turning point for Bateman’s already fragile psyche.
Watch “American Psycho Business Card Scene — What it Means”:
Who made this?
This video about the American Psycho business card scene was created by StudioBinder, a production management software creator that also happens to produce wildly informative video essays. They tend to focus on the mechanics of filmmaking itself, from staging to pitches and directorial techniques. You can check out their YouTube account here.
More videos like this
- Have you ever wondered what was going in with the reality-shattering ending of American Psycho? Here’s The Take with, well, a take on what really happened.
- Here’s more of StudioBinder’s work: a video essay that clarifies the importance of a script breakdown with a look at Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- Here’s another scene breakdown from StudioBinder, on what makes the poker scene in Casino Royale so captivating even if you have no idea how poker works.
- And here’s their look at the narrative and emotional purpose of the point of view shot.
- Finally, here’s StudioBinder’s ultimate one-stop guide to how frame rate works.