'Fight Club' tells the story of urban paranoia in perhaps the best way I've
seen since Martin Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver' in 1976. The film tries every
possible way to shock the audience with dread, visual excrement, free
flowing ideas and morbid theories and a protagonist whose very existence is
so far beyond pathetic, that it seems not of this world. The movie is a
product of director David Fincher, a man whose films are so ugly, they often
miss the real point they're trying to make. Fincher has been a music video
director and cuts his motion pictures rapidly with visual tricks and plays
with his film a bit too much in the cutting room. 'Alien 3' was Fincher's
first real notice and it received mostly negative reviews. His hugely
commercial 'Seven' in 1995 had its high points and low points and came
across as a cult like version of 'The Silence of the Lambs' with Kevin
Spacey being the only stand out member of the cast. 'The Game' with Michael
Douglas and Sean Penn in 1997 was like touring a broken down fun house and
now Fincher has released his most controversial film to date with 'Fight
You simply can't say enough good things about Edward Norton. His enormous
talent as an actor is matched only by the fact that he chooses his films
carefully and makes the most of his characterizations. His next move should
be to act alongside a Newman, a Duvall or a Hoffman the way Tom Cruise has
because since Tom Cruise has held his own with those actors, imagine what
Norton could do! In 'Fight Club' he is Jack, our narrator and friend who
works for a major car manufacturer and hates his job, his boss and his
surroundings. On a business flight one night he meets Tyler Durden (Brad
Pitt), a soap manufacturer and salesman who befriends Norton and we later
see a strange twist in their relationship that plays with Norton's mind
better than most psychological thrillers of its type.
After Jack's condo is terrorized by a bombing, Tyler puts him up at his
place and the two of them form a strange group of other angry, young to
middle aged men who have similar lives and call it "fight club". It's an
organization of counter culture where unorthodox, bare fisted fights occur
and anything goes in the manly art of self defense. Others gather around as
two selected members of the group fight and they have very strict rules
about the sacred order of the club. Jack also has many problems. His lack
of friends forces him sub consciously to attend support groups where people
suffer from many diseases and disorders. One is for a group of men with
testicular cancer and Jack becomes involved with Robert Paulson (Meat Loaf),
a man who later becomes a member of the club. Jack also meets Marla Singer,
a woman with no life who lives in poverty, smokes herself in a way that may
lead to an early grave and she has no direction in her life.
"Fight club" eventually makes its way into many major cities around the
United States and borders on becoming a terrorist organization striking at
the very heart of commerce and financial viability. Fincher makes the most
of his wide screen presentation and uses the ratio very well in structuring
his film technically that bends and stretches the limits of the human mind
and shows just how much of an emery it can become in each of us. 'Fight
Club' may seem a bit lengthy but it does sit well as it never seems
repetitive and always has a few goodies up its sleeve.
The controversy surrounding 'Fight Club' will become gigantic. It's not a
film for the casual movie goer. Its hard core presentation is unsparing.
It goes for the jugular the way 'A Clockwork Orange', 'Do the Right Thing'
and 'JFK' did. It's also a film that will sit well with cult film
historians who have appreciated such films as 'Eraserhead', 'The Rocky
Horror Picture Show' and 'Blue Velvet'.
The film's screenplay is by Jim Uhls, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk.
There are many layers of human nature mixed with a perspective view of life
at the bottom of the world and reflects just how many people are
increasingly desperate in their lives, striving for something better and
realizing that opportunities for success are in many cases, closed doors in
their lives and an alternative for their ambitions must be found. Although
Brad Pitt receives first billing, his character resembles much of the
psychotic tumbling found in his performance in '12 Monkeys' but Pitt does a
good job with what he's given here. Again, this film belongs to Edward
Norton. I hope he receives his third Oscar nomination with this film as he
is destined to certainly win one some day if there is any justice.
Copyright © 2000 Walter Frith