Fight Club (1999)

Director: David Fincher

Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter

David Fincher’s Fight Club, based on the novel of the same name, is the ultimate cult classic. With its clever use of satire, the film perfectly captures the pre-millennium anxieties involving the culture of consumerism, the value system, male identity and the crisis of masculinity. Fight Club follows the unnamed Narrator (Edward Norton), an insomniac who leads a directionless life. He visits support groups for men with testicular cancer, attempting to cure his insomnia by nurturing and sympathising with the other cancer sufferers. His dull and stagnant life is turned on its head when he meets the mysterious soap salesman, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). In a bid to escape their mundane lives and better yet, oppose and challenge society, the two men form an underground fight club. It ultimately expands into something much bigger, and the Narrator soon finds his life spiralling out of control.

fight club

As one of my all-time favourite films, there are so many ways Fight Club can be interpreted, which makes it such a fantastic watch. One thing is for sure though; this film is not just simply about a couple of guys who start up their own fight club for the sake of it. The film is much deeper and innovative than your presumption and instincts may initially tell you. With the use of symbolism and black humour, Fight Club voices the dark fantasies, anxieties and desires of the pre-millennium working man. The unnamed Narrator finds himself drawn into a very violent and chaotic world, alongside the confident and charming, Tyler. Also involved in their escapades, is Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), a classic femme fatale, and she finds herself stuck in the middle of the men’s lives.

Fight Club (1999)Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Screengrab)
Fight Club (1999) Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Screengrab)

Fight Club is pretty faithful to its source material, as it follows the same story and presents the characters just as wonderfully as the book does, if not better. Tonally, both the novel and the film are very similar as well. Whilst both are equally as ghastly, I believe the film is actually superior to the book, which is quite a rare occurrence for adaptations. Unlike most films that were originally a book, Fight Club actually explores the characters and their relationships with each other in even more depth. Also, there is much more emphasis on the love triangle aspect. In many respects, the film is an improvement on an already great novel.

The performances of both Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, is one of the main reasons the film is so engaging and incredibly memorable. They play their characters so brilliantly, especially Norton whose character we identify with the most. As more and more fight clubs start appearing all over the country, with Tyler Durden leading the movement, the viewer is plunged into the crazy journey alongside the Narrator. Norton’s character is pitted against much more physically dominant men in the fight club, but otherwise they are ordinary guys just like himself. The fights are an unflinching and bloody, and there is a sense of desirability created in these scenes. However, as some may argue against, the film does not glamorise violence. It is a highly satirised commentary on isolated young men, who feel they have no place in society and the fight club provides a platform where they can reassert their identity and “hyper-masculinity”.

helenabonhamcarter

Despite the film’s slow start, Fight Club is a joyously entertaining film with audacious comedy, but still manages to implement significant messages about society. How fight club transforms into a larger anti-capitalist movement, elusively titled Project Mayhem, is a very interesting chain of events. Having watched the film before reading the book, I was very surprised with the direction of the film. The film really plays with your expectations and it very much defies genre conventions. As a psychological, action-packed, satirical and comical film, it doesn’t quite fit into any particular genre. Crucially though, Fight Club contains everything which is needed for a really enjoyable film.

fight club - brad pitt

Overall: 

Fight Club is definitely one of the greatest films of all time. I have watched this film multiple times now and it never ceases to entertain and amuse. Although it relishes in its violence and fight scenes, there still aren’t many films out there quite like Fight Club, as it has such a profound level of courage and ambition. Terrific performances, visually compelling and with a narrative that ejects you of your comfort zone. Even to this day, Fight Club is still frequently watched, loved and appreciated, having established a large cult following. There is no doubt that Fight Club is a timeless film.

Film Quote: “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of fight club is: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

Let me know what you thought of the film in the comment section.

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Liam

8 thoughts on “Fight Club (1999)

  1. Great review. For one reason or another I’ve never been able to connect with the Fight Club enthusiasm. I certainly appreciate some of the things it’s going for, but overall I just couldn’t get into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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