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Fight Club

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Fight Club

Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt
Director: David Fincher
Rated: R
RunTime: 139 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Jared Leto, Eion Bailey

Review by Greg King
2½ stars out of 4

David Fincher (Alien 3, Seven, etc) makes dark edged, gritty contemporary tales exploring the dark soul of man, and Fight Club is no exception. There is a bleak, nihilistic undertone to this cynical and subversive movie, which espouses violence and aggression as a solution to the systematic emasculation of men and their struggle to find their role in society as we move into the next century. Edward Norton plays the anonymous hero and narrator of this disturbing tale. An insurance adjuster, he is disillusioned and bored with his unfulfilling life, and feels he is slowly dying, one day at a time. He briefly finds solace and catharsis by attending a series of

self help groups, where he finds compassion and warmth. These meetings become something of an addiction, until the presence of Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), also a serial attendee, proves to be off-putting.

Enter Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) a charismatic but anarchistic soap salesman, whom he meets on a flight. Durden befriends Norton and initiates him into the fight club, a place where men can vent their frustration, rage and humiliation by punching the living daylights out of each other. Eventually though the club seems to take on a life of its own and develops into some sort of urban terrorist group with a far more sinister agenda. However as Norton races against time to prevent a disaster he discovers more about his true nature than he is prepared for.

Based on Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel, Fight Club is a challenging and visceral film that defies mainstream conventions and pushes the cinematic envelope a little further. Visually, this is a stunning film, and Fincher certainly dazzles us with his cinematic pyrotechnics here. He fills the screen with a veritable montage of images and ideas, and the film's somewhat chaotic, frantic structure enriches its disturbing vision of modern society characterised by disharmony and confusion. Fincher doesn't pull his punches, and this is one of the more brutal and violent films you'll see this year. There is a sadistic edge to much of the confronting violence. However, the film is also tempered with a bleak, very twisted sense of humour. There is also a subtle homo-erotic touch to the relationship between Pitt and Norton, especially evident in the bruising scenes set inside the fight club itself, which is full of sweating, semi-naked men beating each other up.

Somehow Fincher seems to get the best out of Pitt. He gives another cocky, brash, jerky and mannered, occasionally narcissistic performance that lies somewhere between his misunderstood lunatic from Twelve Monkeys and his seductive psychopath from kalifornia. He gives the complex character a dangerous but charismatic edge. Norton, who has proved himself one of the more consistently interesting actors around, delivers another solid performance in a demanding role. But, at times, his sense of confusion at the dizzying events overtaking him seems to be too real. As the woman caught between Tyler and our hero, Bonham Carter gives one of her more ambivalent but sexually uninhibited performances.

But somehow the film seems to run out of ideas towards the end and, like Fincher's previous film The Game, limps to a vaguely unsatisfactory conclusion. Ultimately Fight Club seems like a triumph of style over substance. While the film is visually impressive and provocative, many in the audience will be disturbed by its themes and find it more frightening than inspiring.

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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