Fight Club (1999)

 

Jesus Christ this movie... IS
Jesus Christ this movie... IS

Genre: Drama

Starring: Ed Norton (American History XMoonrise Kingdom), Brad Pitt (KaliforniaThe Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)

Directed By: David Fincher (Alien 3The Social Network)

Overview: When an everyday consumer meets an anarchistic rebel, they begin an underground fight club that grows into an underground revolution.

The Overview I’ve written could never do Fight Club justice. Those of you who have seen Fight Club (and if you haven’t: “You haven’t seen Fight Club!?!?! What is WRONG with you?!” – Yeah, you deserved that, just like you deserve that if you haven’t seen Blade Runner) know that it’s not a movie about two guys who meet and start boxing. It’s not about making soap, it’s not even about anarchy… Wait, let’s not get ahead of things…

Slide

Our hero (Ed Norton) is an everyday guy who’s an insomniac. When he works, he’s a button-down worker bee who travels from city to city investigating mechanical problems for a major car manufacturer. When he’s home, he buys clever Ikea furniture and doesn’t sleep. He begs his doctor for sleeping pills, and explains how much he’s suffering. The doctor tells him that if he really wanted to see suffering, he’d go to a testicular cancer support group meeting. Well, he ends up going. And he finds solace in the tears of others, and cries with them. Finally he sleeps. He goes to more meetings and cries more and sleeps more and his life is beginning to look up. Then Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) shows up to all his meetings, faking like he’s faking. He stops crying and he stops sleeping and he’s back to living life in misery. On a business trip, he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Tyler sells soap. When our hero gets back home, well, his apartment seems to have blown up. Stranded he calls Tyler, they drink, they have a friendly fist fight, and they move into Tyler’s dilapidated abandoned house together. They fight some more, they start a boxing club, and Tyler imparts his nuggets of wisdom as that club grows into something that can’t be contained in tavern basements. I guess that’s a good spoiler-free start…

So as I was saying, Fight Club isn’t about a man who becomes an anarchist, it’s not about a couple of people who become friends and change one another’s lives, it’s not about testicular cancer, and it’s definitely not about boxing. Without overstating it with halo’d fanfare, Fight Club is nothing less than a marker of my generation, of this generation. It’s one of – if not the – best films of the decade. It’s profound while being relatable. It’s a film that taps into the pulse of Generation X / Generation Y, and tells us loudly, with its brilliant script, what is wrong with this world. Yes it’s preachy, but it preaches a counter-culture sentiment that we all know and need to be reminded of from time to time. Part of what makes it so brilliant is how well-made it is. David Fincher paints with a bleak palate of sickly fluorescent greens and cold blues atop of greys, browns and blacks. The soundtrack is one of my personal Top 3 favourites, with the Dust Brothers electronica still current today, 15 years later. It’s Brad Pitt’s finest role, Meatloaf’s finest role, and one of Ed Norton’s best – American History X and The 25th Hour make it too hard to decide.

Stop being so AWESOME

And then, when you think it’s told its message, there’s something else. There’s a brilliant twist - a beautifully original, mind-blowing cherry to top off the whole story, and it’s this awesome MOREness to Fight Club that makes it stand head and shoulders above the rest. It’s anti-consumer anarchist wisdom wrapped up in a hipster bow that consumer masses actually bought and loved and ate up. Hopefully it managed to make people actually think about the ‘less’ that we need.

There’s no hiding my bias for this one. It’s been my second favourite film since the day I saw it. My computer wallpaper is the 'This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time' quote. Fight Club is the only movie that I saw in theaters on a Friday night, and returned the next Monday to re-watch. The only one. 15 years later it holds up. It holds up like Atlas. But don’t just take my word for it. Today it sits at #10 of IMDb’s top 250 films ever made, between Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Yeah. I’d say it’s about that important. Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Argh! I just want to watch this again now!
Argh! I just want to watch this again now!

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 10 Script: 9 Plot: 9 Mood: 10

Overall Rating: 94% (Join Up)
Aftertaste:
The only problem I have with Fight Club is a beef I’ve grown to hear from many people. Without spoiling the end, the end has some issues. In fact the whole concluding premise demands a big hunk of suspension of disbelief. Since watching Fight Club, I’ve learned that Chuck Palahniuk’s source novel of the same name has a different ending - an ending that makes a lot more logical sense. Otherwise, I’d have given the plot a perfect score of 10 too…
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