Cert: 18 Runtime: 139 mins Director: David Fincher Cast: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf
Hey, you created me. I didn’t create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better.Take some responsibility!
Whatever Fight Club is about, it is a masterpiece of modern cinema. Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, director David Fincher has created a dangerous film that exposes the intense power of the will to change one’s life.A young urban professional who works for a major car manufacturer can’t sleep. Although he doesn’t have any of the associated afflictions, he stumbles across support groups as a means to let out whatever emotions he is feeling, which in turn is allowing him to sleep. But the use of these support groups is ruined when he meets a young woman named Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), who is also going to all these support group meetings. Because he knows she too is not afflicted with any of the maladies for which the groups exist, her presence has lessened the impact of the stories he hears. His life changes when he meets a soap manufacturer named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who in many ways is the antithesis of the insomniac. Due to unusual circumstances with his own condo, the insomniac moves in with Tyler, who lives in a large dilapidated house in an otherwise abandoned part of town. After a bit of spontaneous roughhousing with Tyler in a bar parking lot, the insomniac finds it becomes a ritual between the two of them, which is helping him cope with the other more difficult aspects of his life. The fights also attract a following, others who not only want to watch but join in. Understanding that there are other men like them, the insomniac and Tyler begin a secret fight club. As the fight club’s popularity grows, so does its scope in all aspects. Marla becomes a circle not specifically of the fight clubs but of Tyler and the insomniac’s collectives lives. As the nature of the fight clubs becomes out of control in the insomniac’s view, the insomniac’s life, in association, is one where he no longer understands what is happening around him, or how he can get out of it without harming himself.
You might as well be asking the meaning of life. Because for all the interpretations that have surfaced about what exactly this film is telling us, not one can be confirmed…or ruled out. Maybe it’s a criticism of consumerism; a world of advertising that bombards us with images of who ‘they’ want us to be with such ferocity that we start to believe it. Maybe it’s urging us to break free of the constraints of society, a society we’re supposed to fear, admire, respect, serve, and live life free. Or maybe it’s just so satiric that the preacher himself, Tyler Durden, with his too-cool hairstyle and nightclub-junkie sunglasses, exists only to parody the very nature of anarchy, a lying hypocrite constantly firing useless one-liners and incoherent ‘philosophy.’
The characterisation of all three main characters is extraordinary. One could argue each actor gives a career-best performance, adding immeasurable weight to the film’s message, whatever it may be. Norton’s deadpan narration of every painstaking moment of his life doesn’t so much justify his actions as it emphasises them. Pitt’s character is the one that benefits most from a brilliantly unique script that never fails to impress, full of refreshing dialogue and devoid of any clichés. Meanwhile, the consistently underrated Carter brings the vampiric Marla to life (no pun intended), giving a marvellous turn as the narrator’s morbid love interest who envies the dead and preys on those close to joining them.
I regard this movie as highly as I do because, just like the characters themselves, it relishes in breaking all the rules. Where other movies follow a set system of guidelines that eventually result in a film falling into one or two genres, Fight Club dosen’t try to classify itself, but instead tells its story without letting convention get in the way. The film is driven solely by the narrator’s recollection of what he and Tyler built, and if he wants to backtrack, stop time or ignore something he’d rather not pay attention to, then the audience is forced to do the same.Fincher makes it very clear that we shouldn’t forget that what is on-screen is fiction, and that allows him to play with all sorts of fourth-wall-breaking techniques. This gives the film a unique touch rarely seen in movies past and present, but more importantly, it gives the viewer perfect reason to suspend their disbelief, especially when things get more sinister towards the Third Act. For better or for worse, the vast majority of people will remember Fight Club for its blindsiding twist ending, a moment recognised in pop culture so frequently it is almost impossible not to know it even without watching the film. Regardless, I urge anyone who has yet to see it to give Fight Club their full attention. And even if you can’t decide upon exactly what it means after the first screening (like me), you can at least marvel at the surreal cinematography, threatening performances from all involved, and the efforts it took to create a film so steeped in fan-dividing social commentary, psychology and satire all at the same time. 8.2/10