„Fight Club” by David Fincher is a masterpiece.
I doubt if there is anyone out there who wouldn’t agree with that statement above. The movie is so complex, unique, fascinating, brilliant, honest and outstanding. I have been trying to write the analysis for 3 years now, I started reading the book, then I finished it and I realized it can’t be used here - the movie is a separate organism in that case, much like with “American Psycho”, the movie, which whilst is one of the most daring and bravest mainstream movies I saw, contains maybe 1% of book’s necessary gore and profoundness.
There are so many things shown here.
The human basic need to express its anger – we are angry. why? Tyler has the answer for that:
“God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables — slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
Is it possible that the race to perfection made us all so alike the only way we can actually FEEL is by beating another human being senselessly? Yes, it’s very possible. I would go as far as to say that the rapid emotions, that sheer anger, that fast and violent feelings and experiences are the last resort for many, and what gets them through their ordinary, plain days.
“You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”
The movie is a criticism for contemporary world. Its void and emptiness, the similarity between everybody’s lives, consumption, materialism, rat race. “Things you own end up owing you”. The movie’s message is so real and so powerful – the narrator actually has the guts to blow up his own apartment, with all those ridiculous things he bought for the money he earned working in corporate company, doing something he hates, spending those money for stuff he will never need nor use. When he gets rid of it, he doesn’t miss it, he is “enlightened” freed from that absurd pattern seen everywhere at any time.
There is a brilliant exchange in the movie in the scene where Tyler and Narrator talk about their fathers.
“So I graduated. I called my dad and I ask: dad, what’s now? And he said – I don’t know find a job. So I did that and I called him and I asked – dad, what’s now? And he said – I don’t know, get married”
Everybody is the same, everybody has the same agenda – to born, to live, to breathe, to learn, to graduate, to find a job, to buy things, to get married, to have kids, to die. When you break that chain you live outside of society, on Paper street making soap. It is actually the most painful thing here – I always assumed it’s a bad thing – that movies that show yuppies who don’t want to be the same as everyone else always depict them as psychopaths – we either have Patrick Bateman chasing prostitutes through hallways, naked, with a chainsaw or the Narrator with schizophrenia, creating anarchy groups. But then it occurred to me –if you would actually quit money, job and ALL the rules – what option would you have other than insanity?
Another of movie’s poignant observations deals with relationships. The narrator and Marla go to therapy groups because only when people think you are dying they are listening to you. It is shown brilliantly in the movie – the Narrator is a leader of space monkeys, yet they never listen to him, he doesn’t even listen to Marla, the woman he loves, in his work everybody looks and behaves like they are sleepwalking.
The movie has something common with cult classic ‘Pulp Fiction’ – the amount of coolness, uncanny coolness, which makes people all over the world quote Tyler and dress like Marla.
I believe apart from great, extremely quotable dialogue (the only movie more quotable is I think ‘American Psycho’ – literally every line from that film is utter brilliance), great acting and intense characters, the movie’s coolness lies in the variety of scenes (even the little ones when Tyler sits on the chair after fighting Lou and puts a cigarette in his mouth and immediately there is a hand next to him holding a lighter) and depicting everyone’s dreams.
Like the scene where the narrator massacres himself in front of his boss, forcing him to pay him for a year, not only that – the way Norton’s character treats his boss in almost every scene – is there anybody reading this review who wouldn’t like to do that? Better yet - how many of us actually would want to fight in such club? On bare fists, creating somewhat different world, where no items, no money, no jobs, no families matter, only we matter, right there, right now.
Let’s talk about the twist for a second. Fincher “got me” first time I was watching the movie. I didn’t see that coming at all. Which is weird ‘cause there are so many hints to the fact that the Narrator and Tyler are actually the same person. Tyler appears in 5 frames at the beginning of the movie, as the projection of Narrator’s mind. When Narrator says “could you wake up as different person?” Tyler drives next to him on stairs. Tyler and Marla are never in the same room. Pay close attention to the conversation the narrator has with the policeman about the arson – it seems what Tyler said was actually said by Narrator to the policeman – hence his strange reactions. Of course all of those clues cannot be discovered the first time – there is simply too much matter here, nobody suspects that in such a monumental film such elaborated lie can be created.
The performances from all three main actors deserve standing ovation. I’m not very fond of Edward Norton, but he was excellent here, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role of narrator. He is everyman, he fits the character and he is very plausible. But Norton is the weakest out of three.
Brad Pitt gave such a wonderful performance here that it just physically hurts me when I see him do such sloppy work in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. This role here is Brad’s best, just after “Burn After Reading” and "Snatch". His Tyler is charismatic leader, everybody would follow him, he plays the role with a hitch of humor, he delivers every line in a haunting way. Not to mention the amount of physical danger and preparation the movie carried.
Helena Bonham Carter is my favorite actress of all time – she embodies Marla here. Marla, who for me is one of the best characters ever invented. Always smoking, always with messy hair, in black clothes, huge hat, dark sunglasses, outrageously tall stilettos, clever, smart, weird, loud and out of control. Fascinating creature that mixes the qualities that appeal both to Narrator – the need of love – and to Tyler – the quest to achieve the bottom.
The movie has one of the finest screenplays I’ve ever seen played out on screen – book is very similar – it’s also the story told by narrator, but the movie, with the variety of settings, tiny scenes, shots of camera, close-ups, twists and turns, slow motions etc. is just overwhelmingly great. I have never been in more awe than I was first time I saw this film for David Fincher. The movie’s both technical and essential side is outstanding and monumental – to create such film, from the scrap, to transform the screenplay into 150 minutes of cult movie which is now quoted, admired and loved by people all over the world. It is the best directing I’ve ever seen.
The music adds a lot to the film’s unique atmosphere, it is composed by The Dust Brothers and it definitely suits the movie perfectly. But I always regretted that Fincher didn’t succeed in persuading Radiohead to do the soundtrack. That would probably be the only thing which could possibly make this movie better.
The movie is one of the few I saw that changed my life – it shows like nothing else, that nothing really matters. That this journey we are on, that life with its meaningless goals will once be over, there will be nothing left of us. We should embrace who we really are, because when we fight it – we are not only unhappy, but we don’t have a chance to be full and to find that happiness whatever that means for us. Tyler is right – everybody does that, everybody talks to themselves when nobody is watching, everybody imagine themselves as someone else, someone they aspire to be. The key is to be the person you aspire to be, to lose all the meaningless shit, to leave it behind and to evolve. Because one day we are all going to be dust and memories, slowly dissolving in time and space.