Last year under the advise of a coworker I watched the movie American Psycho and fuckin loved it. Upon finding out it was based off a novel, I read that and fuckin loved it even more. I became curious about Bret Easton Ellis’ other work so I decided to read his first book Less Than Zero. It’s been quite a few months since I read it and I never really formulated an opinion on it that it until now…
Less Than Zero is a movie loosely based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name. It’s about a college freshman, Clay, coming home from his first semester of college for winter break. He meets with his ex-girlfriend Blair, who desperately wants him to contact his best friend Julian (played by a young Robert Downey Jr.). Clay found Julian and Blair in bed together around Thanksgiving and things have been uneasy between the three since. Julian and Blair stayed home to work right out of college. Blair is modeling while Julian pursued opening a record label, which failed and at the time looking at opening a nightclub that he can’t fund due to his debts. What didn’t help Julian either was his new found love of heroin, which is what has Blair concerned about his well being. Clay is a bit reluctant to help, but since he still has feels for Blair he does what he can to help out Julian.
Eventually they find that Julian is now prostituting to pay off his debts to his dealer Rip (played by a young James Spader). He then has a pretty bad OD and is puking his intestines out and Clay and Blair nurse him back clean. Julian makes a deal with his father to stay sober for a week in exchange for a bed at home and money to clear his tab. When attempting to confront Rip about being done with him, his old friend heron comes through for one more job. Clay and Blair go out looking him and find him giving some guy a blowie and snatch him up to take him far away. On their drive, Julian passes out on Clay’s shoulder and no longer has another beat to give.
I’m pretty curious as to why this interpretation to film is so bland compared to the novel. It certainly was pretty graphic content wise as the majority of the book is a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds fucking and doing drugs amongst lots of other really psychopathic behavior. If I recall correctly, after Clay’s first night out he wakes up naked with another guy and it’s a lot of that and not all that often with Blair. His relationship with Julian is more like a companion. I don’t think he really ever is as adamant about Julian’s lifestyle as Clay is in the film, he even accompanies him to one of his calls which he sits and watches for several hours. The only person that dies is someone they don’t even know and they just look at the body in an alley.
It seems that the filmmaker traded in sexual ambiguity and rich kids getting their strange thrills for a story of three best friends trying to keep each other out of trouble. I don’t think I really liked the book when reading it, but I certainly like it better than the movie. Funny enough, as I wrote this I listened to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange and thought it’d be a great soundtrack to this story. I’m not the only one that thinks so.