[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B002LE87R6][/pullquote] To write a review on Fight Club goes against the first two rules of fight club. David Fincher’s seminal 1999 masterpiece is about a disillusioned white collar worker (Edward Norton) whose life takes a series of turns that lead to him meet Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a travelling soap salesman. Together the two men form an unlikely friendship and start the eponymous Fight Club, where men can go and feel alive by beating each other to a bloody pulp. The final piece of the unholy trinity at the heart of the film is Marla Singer (Helena Bonham-Carter), who the narrator meets whilst they are both scamming support groups for terminal illnesses.
As the setup to Fight Club suggests, the film is surprising, with a host of anti-heroic characters throughout. Based on a book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, the film was made on an ever-expanding budget that totalled $67m and in North America it made only $37m at the box office. Originally the two main characters were supposed to be played by Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, but Fincher demanded that he got the men who were perfect for the roles. The film is one of the few that divides audiences between loving and hating it. The visceral displays of the fights and violence in general lead some to question the moral core of the film, whilst others believe it is disliked solely because it makes the audience question the lengths that they would go to in order to break free of the soul-crushing nine-to-five office jobs.
Norton plays the ˜everyman’ narrator of Fight Club to pitch-perfect perfection. He is pathetic and inspiring, revolutionary and unassuming. It is his grounded performance that allows Pitt to really go to town with Tyler Durden. He oozes cool, intelligence and sex appeal from the moment you meet him. He is not a man who plays by societies rules and the confidence he brings to the part, inspires confidence in the narrator, and in turn, the audience.
Finchers’ direction has all his classic hallmarks. It’s dark, grimy and raw, but with a level of glossy sheen that makes it an appealing version of reality. Underdogs fight back against their oppressors, and those in power are to be mocked and undermined for their bland banality. He cleverly lights all the recurring sets so that they are in a state of disrepair and the only thing that looks clean and crisp in amongst the carnage is Tyler, with his outrageous clothes acting as a beacon of hope in an otherwise crumbling society.
It seems to me that a film like Fight Club that can divide an audience in such a way and spark such vociferous debate must be an incredibly unique. In fact because of the style and substance of the plot, it’s no wonder that you feel both dirty and inspired by the end.