Sean Bateman is a recurring character in the novels of Bret Easton Ellis. He first appears in The Rules of Attraction (1987), wherein he is one of the three primary first-person narrators. Subsequently, he appears in American Psycho (1991) and Glamorama (1998), and is referenced in The Informers (1994) and Lunar Park (2005). In the 2002 film adaptation of The Rules of Attraction, he is portrayed by actor James Van Der Beek. He is also notable within the overall continuity of the works as the brother of the serial killer Patrick Bateman.
The Rules of Attraction (1987)Edit
In The Rules of Attraction, Sean is a drug dealer from a rich background who attends Camden College, though he pretends to be poor. He is very bitter in regard to women and is somewhat suicidal, though nowhere near as unstable as his elder brother, Patrick Bateman. Over the course of the novel, Sean develops an attraction to one of the other narrators, Lauren Hynde; though he thinks he pleases her expertly, her narrations find the sex quite boring. Additionally, though there is no mention of it in Sean's narrative, the chapters narrated by Paul Denton discuss a sexual affair going on between Paul and Sean; Paul gives these encounters a great significance, whereas Sean doesn't regard them whatsoever, and the extent to which Paul is fabricating or Sean merely omits becomes unclear. As they are all unreliable narrators, we are never sure whether Sean's cool attitude is accurate or not. When his father becomes sick, he briefly meets up with his brother Patrick at the hospital. An unnamed girl (though possibly named Mary) sends Sean love letters, and attesting to the unreliability of written texts, he believes they are from Lauren; his lack of response leads to his admirer's suicide. Lauren becomes pregnant by him, and they pursue an abortion.
American Psycho (1991)Edit
Sean appears in one chapter of American Psycho; he has met up with his brother Patrick for dinner. Patrick's narration finds Sean very annoying. He sticks to using his throwaway catchphrases "Deal with it" and "Rock and roll." This chapter underlines the animosity between the brothers.
The Informers (1994)Edit
Sean appears in a sense in The Informers in the short story "Letters from L.A.". The story is epistolary, composed of letters by Anne, a 20-year-old student at Camden, to Sean; she receives no reply to any of them. Sean's silence shows the level to which he disregards her or is oblivious to her. The letters betray the extent to which she slowly becomes part of the vapid L.A. culture she is inhabiting, to the point where she is able to understand Sean's lack of interest and cease to write letters.
Sean appears in a flashback chapter in Glamorama, in a scene with Victor Johnson.
The Rules of Attraction (2002)Edit
The Rules film adaptation is largely faithful to the narrative of the book, especially for Sean. A significant difference is that the film underlines his sexual encounters with Paul as being merely imagined by the latter (as opposed to the ambiguity underlined in the novel). Moreover, his relationship with Lauren ends without her becoming pregnant; indeed, their relationship is never consummated in the film. Sean has sex with Lauren's roommate Lara instead, consequently ending their love affair. Director Roger Avary chose to shoot Van Der Beek in unfavourable lights to make him look less attractive and more monstrous, to distance the actor's cultural association with the title character of the teen drama Dawson's Creek, which was Van Der Beek's role.