Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
Take our word for it: the film is a comedy…more or less.
American Psycho is one of those movies. By all rights, it probably should not have even been made. The book is, well, messed, and once the 1980s were over, there hardly seemed to be a point. But, somehow, screenwriter Guinevere Turner and director Mary Harron figured out a way to do it. They created a screenplay that was damned ironic and, well, kinda funny. Oh, and the great New York story would be filmed in Harron’s hometown of Toronto.
Admittedly, the film is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but if you can’t crack a smile during the Huey Lewis assessment/murder or the business card scene, you’re missing out.
More than any movie we’ve looked at so far, American Psycho is high class all the way. Most of the scenes are set in local bars and restaurants and there aren’t too many comfy exteriors for our team of detectives to fall back on. You have to know your drinking holes—and we do. Oh yes, we most certainly do.
In real life, Shark City was more of a nighttime kinda place.
If you’re of a certain age, you remember Shark City. Basically, it was the sort of hip, yuppie hangout where you were actually likely to run into people like the titular psycho, Patrick Bateman. Until it closed in 2004, Shark City was the place to put on your black duds and head to for a Saturday night of picking up and looking cool in the Yonge-Eg district. More recently, it housed a club called Suede, but it was vacant last time we checked. Here it plays the restaurant in which Patrick dumps his fiancée, played by Reese Witherspoon.
Mmmm, brunches and ever-so-delicate conversations.
Later, Mr. Bateman takes a not-quite-casual lunch with a police detective played by Willem Dafoe. See, he’s investigating some murders for which Bateman may or may not be responsible. The pair choose to chat and dine at The Senator. The famous jazz club that long occupied the top floor is now gone, as is the neighbouring Torch Bistro, but the diner continues on, just as it has since 1948.
Toronto Life praises Monsoon’s menu of “pan-Asian delights” but neglects to mention its Hollywood history!
When Patrick fails to score a reservation at the legendary “Dorsia,” he takes his doped-up date to “Barcadia” instead. The menus in the film’s restaurant have a quasi-pornographic attention to detail, as evidenced by the peanut butter soup with smoked duck and mashed squash he orders for her. The beanery in question is actually played by the lovely Monsoon, on Simcoe Street.
All the young dudes like it to kick it at the King Eddie.
The King Edward Hotel’s Consort Bar, with its wood walls and high ceilings, is indeed a lovely place to sit around with your pals, drinking expensive cognac, being a Master of the Universe. In American Psycho, it hosts a pitch-perfect scene in which a colleague puts himself in Bateman’s crosshairs by producing the perfect business card. The result may be the scariest men’s bathroom scene since The Shining, but dude gets out alive. For now.
(FYI: The gold-embossed lettering puts it over the top, besting the previous card which had (gasp!) a watermark on off-white stock.)
Call it The Diamond, or call it The Phoenix, just don’t call it late for dinner.
Later, Bateman picks up a model at a hip dance club which is actually our very own Phoenix Concert Theatre. They even hang with their friends in the always-crowded balcony lounge.
This place looks familiar, and it ain’t in New York.
Bateman’s office is unmistakably the TD Centre. We get to see lovely shots of it in the day and in the night. We get to see graceful pans up its length and even get to go inside.
This is a rare instance where a Toronto location fills in admirably for its New York counterpart. Architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe also built the nearly-identical Seagram Building in Manhattan, and New Yorkers might just watch the film thinking they’re merely seeing it from a different angle.
Unless you’re a psychopath having a breakdown, you don’t want to re-enact this scene.
The distinctive marble-faced lobby is also on display during the finale when Bateman (who may or may not already be nuts) finally loses it, big time. Yup, he runs into the lobby, shoots a guard, and catches an elevator up to his office.
Then he leaves a big ol’ confession on someone’s answering machine…only to find out he may have imagined the whole thing. How about that?
And, there ya go. Did we use the word “hip” too much? Or “yuppie”? If you’ve read the book you know it’s not possible. And if you don’t mind creepy three-ways and homoerotic tension, give the movie a shot. You’ll feel right at home (rim shot!).