This Is Not An Exit: The Fictional World Of Bret Easton Ellis

As Mary Harron's shrewd adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's infamous American Psycho hits theaters, it's as good a time as any for a critical reevaluation of the '80s literary wunderkind, whose novels captured everything survivors now claim was wrong with that glitzy decade: the passionless hedonism, the shallow glamour, the rampant consumerism, the selfishness,...read more

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As Mary Harron's shrewd adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's infamous American Psycho hits theaters, it's as good a time as any for a critical reevaluation of the '80s literary wunderkind, whose novels captured everything survivors now claim was wrong with

that glitzy decade: the passionless hedonism, the shallow glamour, the rampant consumerism, the selfishness, the drugs. In lieu of anything critical, this documentary puff piece from ITV's South Bank Show — which never goes any deeper than its subject warrants — will have to do.

Director Gilbert Fox's profile covers everything you ever wanted to know about Ellis but, frankly, couldn't be bothered to ask: his reactions to the sudden fame accompanying his debut novel Less Than Zero, the merciless critical backlash, the controversy surrounding American Psycho's

violence. Lending their voices in support of Ellis and his art are fellow overnight sensation Jay McInerney, English novelist Will Self and a few literary types, none identified onscreen. Most of the commentary is laudatory, and the dissension amounts to a rehash of the outrage that greeted

American Psycho. Peppered throughout are embarrassingly amateurish dramatizations of Ellis's fiction — one featuring Fergie's toe-sucking paramour John Bryan — that pale not only next to Harron's film, but to the movie version of LESS THAN ZERO. Ellis, meanwhile, quashes myths

about himself and responds to issues no one on camera has raised. He admits that while the underlying themes of his novels and stories are very personal to him, the details of his characters' lives shouldn't be read as autobiographical. By way of proof, Fox takes Ellis shopping and gives him the

opportunity to snarl in disgust at the exorbitant asking price for an "ugly" Prada suit.

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