Film Review: Fight Club

**This is a mature film**

**Also, spoilers abound!**

I watched this film a few times in college, loving it each time. I haven’t ever gotten to the point of insane fandom regarding Fight Club, but I absolutely understand and support its place on a top 100 list of Modern Classic Films. I hadn’t watched it in awhile, but one of my professors came into one of my other classes to talk about the process of coming up with and publishing articles. He had just written an article for an academic journal examining Fight Club. I realized I hadn’t watched it in a long time and thought I’d give it a good old college rewatch.

I remember sitting, stunned after watching the film for the first time.My mind was somewhat blown, and I probably looked like I’d been smacked in the brain. I also remember watching it for a second time and seeing all the signs foreshadowing the big reveal of Tyler Durden‘s true identity. It was like watching The Sixth Sense while knowing all the while that Bruce Willis *spoiler!* is dead the whole time.

Edward Norton‘s unnamed character is living a mundane existence, working for a major car company, investigating accidents. He’s also suffering from chronic insomnia, so much so that he’s going slightly mad. He eventually meets a soap-maker named Tyler Durden, played by the brilliant character actor, Brad Pitt. Their relationship quickly grows, and after Norton’s apartment mysteriously explodes, the two men begin living together. After drinks, Durden asks Norton to hit him as hard as he can–giving in to a primal urge, trying to feel alive for the first time. Soon, others join in on their impromptu fights, and Fight Club is born.

These cathartic gatherings spread like wildfire across the nation, everyone hailing Tyler Durden as their leader and inspiration. Fight Club grows and becomes Project Mayhem, an anarchist group intent on some destructive endgame. When Durden begins sleeping with Marla, a slightly crazy woman he met earlier on (played by Helena Bonham Carter), Norton is irritated by her presence, and he begins to attempt to alienate her. Soon, Tyler Durden disappears and Norton does whatever he can to find him. Traveling around the country, looking for other Fight Clubs, where they all hail him with respect, but will tell him nothing. Then, after a conversation with Marla in which she refers to him as Tyler, Norton realizes that he is Tyler Durden, and that he’s had a psychotic break. He has also planted enough explosives to level several city blocks. There is a fantastic self-showdown between Norton and “Tyler,” with a spectacular, surprising ending.

Oddly, even though the plot is straightforward when explained, there are complexities to it which I absolutely love. It’s darkly humorous, and at times painful while poignant. It is populated by some of my favorite actors, in some of the most outrageous situations. The cinematography is stunning, and the film is filled with odd animation and cut scenes to accentuate the story. Now, it’s a brutal film, by its very nature, but there’s a point to it, albeit an excessive one.

I know that I can’t do justice to the film, to the psychology which drives it–the primal urge which the men in the film seek to discover and retain after growing up “in a generation raised by women.” It’s got a Marxist tone to it, while also intensely anarchist, amongst many other themes. It’s not easy to watch, due to the intense violence which permeates the film, though it is brilliant throughout.

I don’t know how close it is to its source material: a book with the name name by Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve read the first couple of chapters, but haven’t gotten far enough to really tell. I’ll have to get to it at some point.

Favorite Quotes:

I want you to hit me as hard as you can.

[after a small scuffle]

We should do this again sometime.

4.5 out of 5 stars


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