American Psycho Analysis

Rather than considering the film version to be an adaptation of the novel, we argue that the novel and film complement each other. In both the novel and the film, Patrick Bateman's identity is based on a double construction. Bateman embodies both the well-groomed image of the Wall Street yuppie and the gruesome image of the serial killer. Yet, while Bateman manages to establish the image of the yuppie as a credible appearance before others within the fictional world, beyond the world of fiction it is clear that his identity as cold-blooded serial killer is merely a hallucination. By creating himself an identity as a serial killer, Bateman attempts to connect with something real beyond the superficiality of the brand names. However, his serial killer identity appears to be an illusion and this renders his identity as yuppie as artificial, meaningless, and invented. In other words, the readers/spectator are invited to enter into the process of Bateman's double identity construction, as American Psycho reveals Bateman's techniques of the self. By clearly indicating that Bateman's identity as serial killer is a hallucinatory construction, American Psycho - both the novel and the film - suggests that Bateman's identity as yuppie is a construction as well.

(from "American Psycho: A Double Portrait of Serial Yuppie Patrick Bateman," written by Tarja Laine and myself, in Post Script 22:3, summer 2003, pp. 46-56)

Dutch Love Story

From an auteur film perspective, Paul Verhoeven's Turkish Delight (1974) has been compared to other European films such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's Theorem (1968) and Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972), all fitting within a tradition of ├ępater les bourgeois through sexual liberation. Yet, Turkish Delight can also be perceived as a raunchy version of the Hollywood melodrama Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970). Like Oliver and Jennifer, Erik and Olga fall in love in spite of their different social backgrounds, and like Jennifer, Olga dies of cancer in the end. Moreover, both movies were extremely popular and have become iconic representations of the early 1970s. If one views Turkish Delight as "the other face of Love Story," as one American critic did, it is temping to overemphasize the differences between those two popular love stories as part of the traditional divide between Hollywood and European cinema. Accordingly as a product of the American studio system, Love Story is a tear-jerker made to move the audience along the lines of predictable genre conventions, whereas Turkish Delight is the artistic expression of one individual director, intended to confront rather than to please the audience. However, these two seemingly antagonistic poles actually complement each other, as two sides of the same coin. As Thomas Elsaesser has argued, European national cinemas have developed not so much in opposition to, but in relation to Hollywood, "existing in a space set up like a hall of mirrors, in which recognition, imaginary identity and mis-cognition enjoy equal status, creating value out of pure difference." Thus, one can also focus on similarities - for example, how the bicycle scene in Turkish Delight evokes the romantic sentiment of that other famous scene in Love Story with Oliver and Jennifer throwing snowballs in New York's Central Park.

(from my essay "Contemporary Dutch Cinema and Hollywood," in Four Centuries of Dutch-American Relations 1609-2009, edited by Hans Krabbendam, Cornelis A. van Minnen, and Giles Scott-Smith, Boom/SUNY 2009, pp. 1060-1070)

French Sitcom

In Francois Ozon's Sitcom, the son's homosexuality is announced; Nicolas "comes out" and his coming out functions as the starting point of the sexual perversions that follow. In this way, the gay son has a double function. His presence not only marks the deviance that challenges the normative, heterosexual, nuclear family, traditionally based on reproduction, but also foregrounds that family life - often placed within the realm of the private - is by definition public as well. The gay son can only be "out" when his private life has been publicly announced, just like the heterosexuality of other family members is "outed" through rituals such as engagements and weddings. Thus, the coming out of the gay son does not make the family public, but merely reveals that the family has been public all along. Instead of leading to the destruction of the bourgeois nuclear family, the openly acknowledged presence of the gay son can be seen as an "outing" of the family. Through the gay son's deviancy, the normative image of the family is revealed as being a construction, a public facade.

(from my essay "Family Portrait: Queering the Nuclear Family in Francois Ozon's Sitcom," in Shooting the Family: Transnational Media and Intercultural Values, edited by Patricia Pisters and Wim Staat, AUP 2005, pp. 73-87, available in open access)

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