FIGHT CLUB (1999) 

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Edward Norton
Brad Pitt
Helena Bonham Carter
Meat Loaf
Jared Leto
Zach Grenier
Eion Bailey
Ezra Buzzington
David Andrews

David Fincher



Time: 139 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Drama

Academy Award nomination for Sound Effects Editing.

I've been a huge fan of David Fincher's since I sat through SE7EN, an emotionally difficult, visually stunning and ultimately brilliant film. All of his films, even though they span different genres, have very strong opinions about human nature and the downfall of society. His theme is always the same, money corrupts and we're going to pay for our greed. Of course, he usually hides his ideas within an intricate plot and outrageously unique characters. FIGHT CLUB is no exception. Though most people are talking about its' violence, I think the truly disturbing thing about this film, and all his films for that matter, is he has a point. Nobody wants to admit that he's right, because if he is, we're in a whole heap of trouble.

The film opens with voice-over from our lead character Jack, played by Edward Norton. He hasn't slept in months and it's beginning to take a toll on his sanity. He finally finds release from his troubles by going to support groups for people with various diseases – testicular cancer, bowel disease, etc. – where he finds freedom in pretending he's a survivor. While attending these groups he notices another person, a strange woman named Marla (played by Carter), pretending as well. Her presence makes him uncomfortable – he's unable to cry in front of her because he knows she's faking – so he strikes a deal with her to split the groups. She agrees and he hopes to never see her again. Unfortunately for her, he does. It's at this point that he meets Tyler Durden (played by Pitt), a soap salesman with a strange outlook on life.

Due to circumstances beyond his control, Jake is forced to ask Tyler for help. Tyler in return gives Jake a new reason to live – Fight Club. It starts with them beating each other up in a bar parking lot and quickly becomes the most popular club not-talked-about in town. The violence in these scenes is fairly grotesque, but it's nothing worse than any other violent film. It's just more concentrated and upsetting because it serves no greater purpose. The film tries to make you believe that these men are finally getting in touch with their true selves, that they're finally feeling again, but if it takes men beating each other to a pulp to make them feel like they're living, why have we spent thousands of years evolving into a civilized – I use that term loosely– society?

"It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything."

FIGHT CLUB tries to get you to buy into its' theory that society is quickly going downhill because of capitalism and the class system, but that would completely discount the years old theory of survival of the fittest. Is the fact that we're stepping on others on our way up the food chain to collect our Ikea furniture and stock options a problem? Absolutely. Will destroying society to make everyone "equal" rectify the problem? Absolutely not. There will always be smarter people willing to do anything to get to the top and setting everyone back to zero is not going to change that.

It's in the confrontation of these issues that the film loses its' way. I could somewhat understand the emptiness of the consumer society, that having the perfect house with the perfect things means nothing if you aren't happy with your existence. Even the need for feeling pain to be alive is not a foreign thought to me. But they lost me with the whole chaos/Project Mayhem plot development 3/4's of the way through. It's also at this point that a major secret is revealed which I didn't care for at all. It amused me and felt like a cop out all at the same time. It certainly was unexpected, but that's not always a good thing. The ending is one of the most unbelievable I've encountered in a long time and was not at all satisfying. It actually made me angry to have sat through two hours of pain and violence for nothing. Some people may find it clever. I think Fincher was trying too hard to be shocking.

FIGHT CLUB is about one man's vision of how to change the world, I just wish it was a better one. I was also disappointed that they wasted the talent of such a fine actress like Bonham Carter on what was little more than the regular useless girlfriend role. Instead of making her an integral part of the plot, they just made her quirkier than normal so her presence was made to seem important. It wasn't. I don't know why I expected more from Fincher – strong female roles are not his forté – but I thought this film might change that. Norton and Pitt give strong performances as two men with similar ideas, but divergent means of making them come true. Fincher's direction is amazing as always. He just needs to focus a little more on the story than the execution. If you're unhappy with your cubicle existence this film will probably speak to you. If you're happy with your capitalistic life, it will probably be the worst film you've ever seen. This is not a film everyone will enjoy. It's also way too long for its own good. A little editing would have gone a long way.

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