Monday, 30 May 2016

Lew Reviews | Fightclub


"an uncompromising American classic" (Travers, 1999) ,just one way to encompass the masterpiece that is David Fincher's 1999 venture Fight Club, a movie that, rightfully so, has morphed into its own sub genre of 'must see' classics.
Fig 1: Movie Poster, Fight Club
The story follows that of Edward Norton's character, who remains throughout the film an unnamed narrator, a (self confessed) troubled and monotonous man sleepwalking his way through day to day life at the pace of his owe to regular 'IKEA' deliveries. A performance that has been described as "compulsively twitchy" (Bradshaw, 1999). After reaching the end of his narcoleptic tether, Norton's character seeks comfort in the regular attendance of a number of self help groups, where he can manage his weekly emotional outburst along with dealing with the arrival of Helena Bonham Carter's character, Marla Singer. Whilst on this emotional escapade, Norton meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a man who manages to teach our protagonist the value in regular underground beatings, which slowly but surely transcends into the nation wide hit that is their very own fight club. Now dealing with his pent up emotions in the form of organised brawls, Norton and Pitt's characters soon expand their already growing fight club franchise into a branch of street crime that see's the doubting narrator rapidly lose faith in what the pair are setting up and sees the damage being caused by the continuation of his emotional outlet. As Norton now seeks to shut down and contain his out of hand relief system the film leads its audience into what remains one of the most appreciated and recognised plot twists in cinematic history, making for a fitting climactic third act that a film this good really deserved.
There are a number of aspects to Fight Club that really deserve to be talked about, including the almighty realisation that shows our good friend Tyler Dudren to be a figment on Norton's imagination, an imaginary friend to beat up if you will. This revelation explains how Norton's character had created Durden as an outlet, or rather excuse, to carry out the deeds and ventures that the narcoleptic narrator couldn't willingly himself. This idea could possibly be a huge piece of social commentary on the directors behalf, touching on the idea that living within such a contained and regulated world leads to the creation of a number of mental traumas and the existence of individuals willing to ensue anarchy in an attempt to free themselves from the restraints of a contained life. Now,of course, this remains purely speculative, but you cannot dispute the idea that Fincher wanted the character of Tyler Durden to serve a purpose to not only Norton's character, but the audience as well. This idea that Durden exists as a ploy of social commentary and a physical embodiment of an opinion is picked up upon in a scene where the narrator recognises that his creation of Durden was an almost schizophrenic state of his own machismo. This recognition of Durdens purpose to Norton's character suggests that Fincher could of possibly been talking about the repression of 'the macho' over decades and the effects it has had on our generation, as the modernisation of our world has lead to less of a need in the formerly necessary caveman attitude. There seemed to almost be similarities between Fincher's Fight Club and Speilberg's 1971 film Duel, where as it seems Duel was suggesting some level of desperation to escape from an idea or expectation, Fight Club see's a character unknowingly give in to an idea and accept its qualities.
Fig 2: Screenshot, Fight Club
One of the most notable attributes of Fincher's creation is its pace, from the very offset of the film Fight Club feels extremely snappy, possibly to mirror certain punchy (pardon the pun) aspects of the film. This pace that runs seamlessly throughout the movie gives the whole piece a sense of needed urgency, which in turn makes the creation of the narrator and Durden's underground club not only feel prominent but also necessary, meaning that from the very first punch thrown by Norton's character feels on time. This quick structure that flows through Fight Club makes the run time fly by, almost leaving no gaps for the audience to question the madness of what Norton's character has done, meaning that for the duration of the lunacy that is his creation, the audience is on board. Its because of this speed the film carries that the audience simply gives in to the idea of a fight club, almost making a viewer completely buy into what Norton's character is doing.
Throughout the whole film, Fight Club feels incredibly edgy, even after more than fifteen years since its release Fight Club feels bold, new and innovative. Ebert describes the film as "visceral and hard-edged" (Ebert, 1999). Now a number of elements could be contributing to this timelessness that Fincher has crafted, possibly the dulled down tone that the film revels in, which in turn makes the character of Durden feel very ordinary and 'run of the mill'. Almost as if you would expect to bump into such a character in your local supermarket, when in reality Pitt's character is unbelievably larger than life and beyond the ordinary. Another aspect which completely contributes to not only the film's success but its underground tone is the character of Singer, played incredibly by Helena Bonham Carter. Singer brings an amazing level of grounding to Fight Club, as at times if the audience were to stop and think about the shift in lifestyle Norton's character has gone through, they may begin to doubt such a change, but Bonham Carters performance continuously reminds the audience of the roots of this social change. For example, during the second act of the film, there is a short period where the Singer is absent, and the audience almost forgets about her, but when she is reintroduced into the story, the audience is reminded of just how far Norton's character has come since his narcoleptic beginnings.
Fig 3: Screenshot, Fight Club
There are simply too many qualities within Fincher's Fight Club to name them all, but to summarise, the whole film really just feels solid and timeless, leading to it truly deserving the 'must see' quality that it has thrived in over the years. The whole film truly just feels together, as a film with such a complex idea and narrative could easily be littered with gaps and questions leading to a broken feeling, but with such a dulled down town and certain characters giving it such a true feeling the film is extremely enjoyable to watch, a rare case of leaving a film with only good things to say and questions that leave you desperate to re-watch.
Bradshaw, Peter, 1999,  Fight Club,
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Ebert, Roger, 1999,
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Travers, Peters, 1999, Fight Club,, Accessed on: 30.05.16
Illustration List
Fig 1: Movie Poster, Fight Club,
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Fig 2: Screenshot, Fight Club,
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Fig 3: Screenshot, Fight Club,
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 (Next Review: Whiplash)