Drama (US); 1999;
Rated R; 139 Minutes
Brad Pitt: Tyler Durden
Edward Norton: Narrator, Jack
Helena Bonham Carter: Marla Singer
Meat Loaf: Robert Paulson
Jared Leto: Angel Face
Produced by Ross
Bell, Cean Chaffin, John S. Dorsey, Art Linson and Arnon
Milchan; Directed by David Fincher; Screenwritten
by Jim Uhls; based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
by DAVID KEYES
Fincher's "Fight Club" is like sitting through some kind
of demented lesson in male torture, in which people are
amused at the site of blood spattering all over the pavement,
and people throwing punches at each other just 'cuz they
feel like it. This is the kind of story that predictably
surrenders to the ferocity brought on by the characters,
as it is a movie about insomniacs, schitzos and other people
with similar disorders who beat themselves to a bloody pulp
so that they can, I guess, feel better about themselves.
But in the process of taking us on a roller coaster, Fincher
makes too many loops and we fall directly out of our fastened
seats; the movie is so shallow, so gross and so depressing
that it leaves nasty tastes in our mouths, and makes us
wish for hospitalization. Had any of this subject matter
retained a decent plot or noteworthy drama, such visual
barbarity could have been swayed. As it stands, however,
"Fight Club" is nothing more than an exercise in lurid images
and dark, nasty intuitions--an exercise that, I'm afraid,
deserves a beating of its own.
script is lifted from the pages of the popular Chuck Palahniuk
novel, which, despite sharing equal repugnance with this
movie, had an interesting message--that, in a way, we as
men are masquerading around in modern society without the
male instinct. We should be hunters, fighters, and macho.
Sadly, the moral that erupts from the book is distinctively
missing here. Instead of a nasty story with life lessons,
what we have is testosterone-driven lunatics who enjoy pain,
the sight of blood, and hearing bones crunch. David Cronenberg
might have succeeded with the material--David Fincher doesn't.
film has a promising start. Edward Norton, trying to duplicate
some of the success he had with "American History X," plays
Jack, an white-collar insomniac working for a major automobile
manufacturer, suffering from self-pity. His doctor advises
him to attend 12-step meetings for the survivors of testicular
cancer, so that he can see what it's like to really have
problems. Unfortunately, Jack's are just beginning--his
apartment complex is destroyed shortly afterwards, his airline
loses his luggage, and he meats a soap salesman named Tyler
Duran, who has fascist views of the world he lives in. The
combination of these three aspects puts Jack into a realm
of almost mental sufferingóbut his "new friend," Duran,
is about to change all of that. After a scene of hitting
each other with bare fists, their life is realized: they
must start a fight club.
establishment attracts many--some with similar problems
as Jack, others with different kinds. But all the same,
they are there for one thing and one thing only: regaining
their so-called male instinct, which Durden, the club's
"dictator," seems to think we have all lost. "The first
rule of Fight Club is: don't talk about Fight Club," he
insists. But then there's a plot twist that makes us question
the authority Durden has over his men. There are reports
of Fight Club being organized not just in their neck of
the woods, but all over the country. If these members are
indeed silent, as the first rule states, then why a sudden
outburst of membership in America?
has always been a creative man behind the camera, but he's
gone too far this time. He emphasizes on so many gruesome
details that it is a wonder his cinematographer is able
to manage the camera so distinctively. The movie's style
and mood are fantastic--I won't argue that. But if the camera
is moving with such grace, shouldn't the images in front
be a little less sickening? The only reason "Fight Club"
is rated "R," and not "NC-17," is probably the fact that
the MPAA thinks sex is more damaging to younger eyes than
never had a problem with brutal images. Some, like the ones
in "Last House On The Left," even carry with them a realistic
tone that we could relate and respond to. Since the message
in "Fight Club" is discarded for the rugged imagery, we
feel distanced from what the members of Fight Club are trying
to prove--are they doing this to break free from the leashes
of their plastic society, or are they doing this simply
because Durden tells them to? The script is unsure of how
to handle physical and psychological dilemmas.
yet, once again, I seem to be in the minority here. As was
the case with "The Sixth Sense" and "Arlington Road," I
find myself breaking from the accord of general critic reaction.
A reader of mine made an interesting point shortly before
I wrote this review, stating that critics, such as myself,
who don't follow the consensus tend to feel guilty for degrading
a movie that so many people have positively responded to.
But I say this without regret or reservation--"Fight
Club" stinks worse than Godzilla's own dumping ground.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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