This scene for American Psycho takes place before any actual murdering takes place. It is in this scene where we meet his first victim, Paul Allen. The main function of this scene however, is to illustrate the competition in status these men are constantly participating in, and how much Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale’s character) cares about these things.
The scene starts with a shot of Bateman and Luis Carruthers discussing his reservation at Dorsia. The camera tracks forward to rest on a mid-shot OTS when Bateman replies, “lucky I guess.” Carruthers compliments his suit. Camera changes to a mid shot of Bateman, his fist resting on a chair in the foreground, with Carruthers in the background, illustrating him as an annoyance to Bateman, his positioning being less significant than Batemans fist. Bateman slaps Carruthers’ hand away when he touches his suit, providing a logical point to cut to the next shot.
The camera tracks Paul Allen as he enters from the left side of the screen to approach Bateman. Quick cut to Bateman of him reacting to Allen acknowledging him by the wrong name, checking his tie, before cutting back to the previous shot. The voice over begins, explaining the situation. As the voice over happens, there is a cut to Marcus Halbistram, the person Allen confused Bateman for, panning from left to right as he enters the room and shakes hands with a colleague, Halbistram nods in acknowledgement toward the camera as he enters, as if he is acknowledging the voice over talking about him.
Cutting back to Bateman, the shot is an awkwardly framed close up, contributing to the feeling of restrained frustration implicit in Bateman’s face. There is series of fast cuts back and forth between Allen and Bateman as they exchange snide remarks, until it cuts to Craig McDermott, accompanied by Timothy Bryce and David Van Patten, entering the board room. McDermott calls out and compliments Allen on the “Fisher Account”, more quick cuts as Bryce inquires about squash.
The pacing of the scene slows dramatically as Allen takes his business card and flagrantly passes it to Bryce. The camera pans to follow the card as it changes hands, there is a whooshing sound as it happens illustrating the significance of the card. Allen then moves to exit the scene, discussing his dinner plans, dropping that he has a dinner reservation at Dorsia, When he mentions Dorsia, the camera is focused on McDermott, Brice and Van Patten who all respond with contained shock, before cutting back to Allen shaking hands with an extra.
Bryce and McDermott make comments before the camera cuts to Bateman removing his business card holder from his breast pocket, cutting to a close up as he opens its. The motion is accompanied by the same whooshing sound as before, and the sound of the case being flicked open is reminiscent of a sword being drawn. Quick cut to Bryce inquiring if its a gram (of cocaine), before cutting back to Bateman placing it on the table, “new card”. Close up of the card on the table, the camera rests on it for an extra beat. Batemans colleagues all lean forward and praise the card. Cut back to Batemen looking very smug with himself, citing the various characteristics of the card. Van Patten then places his card on the table in response. Cut to the two cards adjacent to one another, with Brice’s voice cut over the top exclaiming, “that is really nice.” Cutting back to Van Patten once more, he declares the characteristics of the card before requesting acknowledgement from Bateman.
Cutting to close up of Bateman, the camera is framed slightly off in such a way that it amplifies the tension. Bryce then ups the ante, pulling his own card out and placing it on the table. The camera cuts to a close up of the card, in the same fashion as the previous ones. Once more cutting to Bateman, he is starting to break, barely able to get his words out through frustration, then requesting to see Paul Allens card.
His colleagues exchange a glance, before looking away, Bryce takes a second look at the card before looking around, this gives off an air of significance and intimidation surrounding the card. There is a slowly building hum as this exchange takes place before turning into suspenseful strings as it cuts to a close up of the card. The card is framed and lit in contrast to the others presented in the scene. It takes up most of the frame, is slightly tilted and lit in such a way that it almost spotlit. Batemans voice over exclaims all the things that a so great about the card in exasperation. The camera cuts from the card to an extreme close up of Bateman, who looks as if he could feint. This sentiment is further signified when the camera cuts to a close up of Bateman and Carrathers, Bateman lets the card slip from his fingers before Carrathers asks him if something is wrong, “your sweating.”