Fight Club (1999)

R   |    |  Drama


Fight Club (1999) Poster

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

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  • Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds at an event for Fight Club (1999)
  • Helena Bonham Carter and Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999)
  • David Fincher and Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999)
  • Brad Pitt in Fight Club (1999)
  • Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999)
  • Fight Club (1999)

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From cool color palettes to shocking reveals in movies such as Se7en and Fight Club, take a closer look at the trademarks of David Fincher's directorial style.

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10 May 2000 | dr. gonzo
10
| a dangerously brilliant film that entertains as well as enlightens.
"Fight Club" an aggressive, confrontational, often brutal satire that is quite possibly a brilliant masterpiece. Taking the "Choose life," anti-consumerism rant at the beginning of "Trainspotting," and carrying it to its logical -- albeit extreme -- conclusion this is a big budget, mainstream film that takes a lot of risks by biting the hand that feeds it. The film's narrator (Edward Norton) is an insignificant cog in the drab, corporate machine, dutifully doing his job and what he's told without question. He's an insomniac slave to his IKEA possessions and only finds joy in going to as many self-help/dealing with terminal diseases sessions as he can. It provides him with an escape from his sleepless nights. That is, until Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), a trashy chain-smoking poser, enters his life and upsets his routine. The narrator also meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charismatic soap salesman whose straightforward honesty, candor and sleazy lounge-lizard outfits are a breath of fresh air. One night, after the two men have bonded over beers, Tyler asks the narrator to hit him. At first, it seems like an absurd request but after they pound on each other for a bit, a strange feeling overcomes them. They feel a kind of release and satisfaction at inflicting pain on one another. In a world where people are desensitized to everything around them, the physical contact of fighting wakes them up and makes them feel truly alive. Others soon join in and pretty soon Fight Club becomes an underground sensation. However, it becomes readily apparent that Tyler has more elaborate plans than just organizing brawls at the local bar. David Fincher has taken the dark, pessimistic worldview of "Seven" and married it with the clever plot twists and turns of "The Game" and assembled his strongest effort to date. "Fight Club" is a $50+ million studio film that remains true to its anti-consumer, anti-society, anti-everything message -- right up to the last, sneaky subliminal frame. What makes "Fight Club" a subversive delight is not only its refreshing anti-corporate message but how it delivers said message. As Fincher has explained in interviews, you don't really watch the film but rather download it. Its structure is extremely playful as it messes around with linear time to an incredible degree. The narrative bounces back and forth all over the place like a novel, or surfing on the Internet -- even making a hilarious dead stop to draw attention to itself in a funny, interesting way that completely works. Yet Norton's deadpanned narration holds everything together and allows the viewer to get a handle on what's happening. This is the way films should be made. Why must we always have to go through the A+B+C formula? "Fight Club" openly rejects this tired, clearly outdated structure in favour of a stylized frenzy of jump cuts, freeze frames, slow motion and every other film technique in the book that only reinforces its anarchistic message. A film like this would have never been greenlighted by a major studio if Brad Pitt had not been attached to the project. Once you see the film, it becomes obvious that he was the only choice for Tyler Durden. Like he did with "Kalifornia" and "Twelve Monkeys", Pitt grunges himself down and disappears completely into his role to a frighteningly convincing degree. During many of the brutal fight scenes, he is transformed into a bloody, pulpy mess that'll surely have the "Legends of the Fall" fans running for the exits. It is an incredible performance -- probably his best -- for the simple fact that he becomes the character so completely. If Pitt has the flashy, gonzo role, Edward Norton is his perfect foil as the seemingly meek yet sardonic narrator. It's a deceptively understated performance as the last third of the film reveals but Norton nails it perfectly. He is clearly our surrogate, our introduction into this strange world and his wry observations on our consumer-obsessed culture are right on the money. They are the perfect setup for Tyler's introduction and his view on the world which is clearly a call to arms of sorts, a manifesto that rejects the notion that we are what we own. And ultimately, that is what "Fight Club" tries to do. The film is a cinematic punch to the head as it challenges the status quo and offers a wakeup call to people immersed in a materialistic world where those who have the most stuff, "win." I think that Fincher's film wants us to tear all that down, reject corporate monsters like Starbucks and Blockbuster, and try to figure out what we really want out of life. It's almost as if the film is suggesting salvation through self-destruction. And it is these thought-provoking ideas that makes "Fight Club" a dangerously brilliant film that entertains as well as enlightens.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

[1:57:29] Member of Live plays the waiter who serves the Narrator and Marla with the line, "Sir, anything you want is free of charge, sir."


Quotes

Tyler Durden: Self improvement is masturbation. Now self destruction...


Goofs

When the Narrator is quitting his job, the thermostat alternates between white and black as the shot cuts back and forth between him and his boss. (The 2009 Blu-ray release digitally alters the scene so the thermostat is now consistently white.)


Crazy Credits

The warning at the beginning of the DVD, after the copyright warnings reads: WARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think everything you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned...... Tyler


Alternate Versions

In the Japanese version of the movie, due to censorship rules over showing genitalia, there are no penis shots in the whole movie.


Soundtracks

KDFW News Theme
Composed by
Stephen Arnold

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