Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday Feature Film Review: American Psycho (Wall Street is Murder!) アメリカン・サイコ: ウォール街のダークコメディ

Wall Street is a tough career choice. In fact, it can be murder. Such is the story of Patrick Bateman, perfectly portrayed by Christian Bale (Batman Dark Knight fame). We find a new young generation of eager go getters in New York, who will to do whatever it takes to make a big bonus. It is a very narcissistic view of life and career, but was a true reflection of the times. Designer suits by Armani? Yes. The best tables at the best restaurants? Yes. Alpha male dominance seeking out model like girlfriends to be future possible trophy wives? Yes. Cash, youth and drive  combine for a turbo charged cocktail of ambition. 

It is all hedonistic of course and sadly lacking in personal values. Such is the world of our hero (anti-hero) Patrick Bateman. The son of another financier who plans on inheriting the family firm, Patrick is a trust fund child of privilege. An entitled prima donna type who has so much, he wonders what he really represent inside. An authentic product of top schools and the ivy league, they all seem to want to avoid that "Yale thing". What is that you ask, "being a closet homosexual doing a lot of cocaine, Oh that Yale thing!"

This is a dark comedy ultimately, (horrifically black) laughing at the shallow unimportant tiny details that could represent any real value in life or career. A business card is a great test of this alpha male crowd. "What do you think?" when presenting one's business card, is not really a question. It is a hoped for response of total envy, when presenting your refined & highly stylish business card. Bone and Silian Grail? so passe, Eggshell with Romalian Type, now that is the card to impress. Any audience member is surprised and partly revolted at the fierce rivalry over nothing of substance. However, for those involved, it is everything and not to be taken lightly. It could even be deadly.

Financial markets are black and white, driven by hard numbers. This leads to stress for those who do not lead or the ability to catch up. Intense deadly stress. This needs a release, and for our hero/anti-hero Patrick Bateman, this means murder, literally. It starts out with a homeless man and his dog in a back alley. What triggers this new stress release and who does it begin? you are shocked at the first killing but get used to the pattern soon after. You come to understand that the environment of New York financial markets, is toxic for young people with too much money taken on too quickly. This early high pressure to perform would kill you without some kind of release. The emptiness of those times crosses many activities like pornography, cocaine abuse, sexual amusement, tribe leadership, and endless trend setting culture. The goal of the story is to find comedy in the ridiculous nature of these lifestyle choices.

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:

1) There is a lot to learn about how to be long-term successful in finance, and no one answer will do. The more ways you can find to close big deals, and build relationships, the better. There is no single way to success, there are many, so learn them all.

2) The best financial leaders know how to make money, and keep doing what they do best, by observing key decision makers or possible patterns they often use. Knowing what buttons to press to close a deal or when to change with any new trend, is key to long term success.

3) When becoming a successful dealmaker, your emotional strength from family at home, may help you perform better on deals at work. Every person has a personal life, so the fulfilling it more, can help personal performance. It cannot be denied.

New York in the 1980s was an era that came and ended in the US along with the USSR cold war. Much of course depends on your personal definition of financial success, and the drive or core reason to pursue it in the first place. Beware to all those who may look at a financial career with less interest and more longing for the basics of life. Be warned of what you could really be feeling! A perfect movie choice for the holiday season when you have a bit of time to reflect on what is important. Highly recommended for all of the typical staff at an investment bank portrayed wonderfully by an excellent cast. So again, highly recommended! Happy New Year in 2018!

Please visit us for our Friday Feature Review where TMJ Partners will review books, movies, services and anything else with a financial theme.  Follow us now for our free weekly updates, just click hereThank you for reading and learning more about how money is made in finance!

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