Film Review, December 1999 - FIGHT CLUB: 4 / 5

STARS: Edward Notion, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meet Loaf, Jared Leto

DIRECTOR: David Fincher



DISTRIBUTOR: 20fh Century Fox

RUNNING TIME: 2hrs 14mins TBC

OPENING DATE: November 11

Pulling no punches.

A comedy from the director of Alien3, Seven and The Game? Well, yes.., no... maybe. David Fincher's sometimes stomachchurning, often extraordinary assault on modern materialism, corporate power, male identity and self-help groups is much too funny to be a drama, but way, way sicker than any 'bad taste' comedy you've ever seen. A film that can't be neatly slotted into a genre - very end of the millennium - much like the film itself.

Adapted from Chuck Palahniuk's acclaimed debut novel, Fight Club is a strangely surreal, yet wincingly brutal tale of Edward Norton's odyssey from listless insomniac to purposeful abandoner of society's conventions. He can't sleep, yet his life is a waking nightmare, endlessly flying from State to State as a recall advisor on unsafe cars. His only goal in life is systematically acquiring the entire Ikea furniture range, stunningly visualized by Fincher, as Norton's apartment actually become pages from their catalogue.

Spiritually dead on his feet, he discovers that by attending self-help meetings for testicular cancer (and later, other such groups) that he i~able to express emotions and feel needed "Only when people think you're dying, do they truly listen to you." There he meets nicotine addict Maria Singer (Bonham Carter) who practices the same deceit, because it's cheaper than the movies and she gets free coffee. It's a weird sensation, laughing so heartily at such a serious subject. Get used to it.

Travelling back from a job, he meets soap salesman Tyler Durden (Pitt), an xtrovert subversive who abhors materialism and enjoys cutting single subliminal frames of pornography into children's movies. Both filled with inner rage and discontentment, they form 'fight club', an underground society allowing similarly disaffected men to beat the hell out of each other. Not for cash, trophies or glory, just because they want to. And the club grows and grows.

Wild, weird and wonderful, Fight Club is Fincher's most unconventional film (quite a boast), bursting with dazzling, that leave you gasping - a plane in flight whose fuselage peels away; a couple having sex as the camera rotates over their semi-blurred bodies; frames of film that pop out of the projector. It's the most hallucinogenic Hollywood movie since Natural Born Killers, but while that was an empty experience, this film is sharp, smart and thoroughly engaging, with major praise due to Jim Uhls's cracking script.\par When it come to the film's uncomfortable violence, the directorial style turns shockingly realistic as bodies are pummelled with bare knuckles and faces are disfigured before our eyes. In one incredible scene, Norton gives himself a savage beating in front of his beleaguered boss. It's scary, but exciting - you have no idea what this film is going to do next, but you know you want to be there. The final reel is the tester - for this reviewer, the film went a bridge too far. It'll either provide the pidce de resistance or really annoy you.

Whatever happens, you'll be transfixed by the two central performances. We've come to expect the wiry, wired Norton (the film's narrator) to be utterly convincing and he is, but Pitt gives by far the meatiest, most charismatic performance of his career, as the mad, bad and dangerous to know Tyler. Bonham Carter isn't bad either, but has little to do except smoke sexily and retain a permanently dazed expression. Much like the audience after this knockout film.

Stewart Edwards


Created by Alexandra Haviara - Online since 22nd October, 1999

Page updated: 1st December