Fight Club ★★★★

“I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.” 

Fight Club is such a bloke’s movie. 

It is difficult to know how to criticise a picture as universally lauded as Fight Club. To lean into the negatives feels unjustifiably contrarian yet to shower it with praise feels to be buying into the hype. As it stands, I think I feel the most comfortable saying that Fight Club is an extremely well made film that is entirely sure of its purpose, intent and identity that I do not think is entirely my thing. 

Undeniably, this is a fantastic cast. Edward Norton is one of the best working actors around and this is the film that proves it. All of the twists and turns his character takes are realised to be entirely believable and he quickly becomes a sympathetic but pitiful protagonist to follow. Brad Pitt is amazing, of course, but the real standout for me is Helena Bonham Carter in probably her greatest role. Marla is such a beautiful and tragic character and Carter delivers a a masterful performance that was unfairly snubbed by awards at the time. 

I think at the crux of my feelings about Fight Club is that I just do not think what it has to say is as interesting as it wants me to think it is. While there are a lot of ideas at play in this script (the relationship between the self and identity being the most interesting of them for me), what Tyler ultimately seems to stand for in a broader political sense seems kind of generic. It is not especially difficult to grasp; little guy is downtrodden by the bigger guy and wants to start civil war. His plan all hinges on class warfare which is certainly a significant and relevant aspect of contemporary American society to explore but not one that I think is handled in an especially textured or unique way here. It is good but not mind-blowing. 

The best ideas, as I alluded to before, stem from the themes of identity and emotional suppression. I do enjoy the twist at the core of the film’s story and what we ultimately learn about our leads as people. I am much more engaged by the questions and issues raised by how the individual male identity and experience is impacted by the watered down, droning corporate society than I am relishing in far cats being punished for being fat. This is to say that I much prefer exploring how Tyler developed the conclusions he did rather than actually seeing him put them into action. Although, that being said, surely everything Fight Club has to say is explored as well, if not better in films like Taxi Driver. Let us not pretend that these ideas first appeared in the cult film scene in 2000. 

Fight Club is a good, solid film made by one of the best directors in the industry starting some of the best actors of their generation. Is it overhyped? Yeah, a bit but never let that discourage you from checking it out and coming to your own conclusions about it. After all, forming your own conclusions is what it’s all about, right?

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