Urban Cinefile
"When we do work together and things aren't going well, she knows I've been fucking up or something and she's sympathetic - "  -composer Elliot Goldenthal on working with his director wife, Julie Traymor
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

FIGHT CLUB

SYNOPSIS:
Jack (Edward Norton) is a young man in a highly paid job living in an Ikea catalogue comfort zone. But for all his comparatively stress-free existence, he can't sleep at night. A flirtation with the vicarious pleasures of self-help co-dependency groups allows the emotional taps to open for a while but the arrival on the scene of grief-junkie Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) threatens his one source of raw emotion. Then he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charming rebel who makes expensive boutique soap from the human fat extracted during liposuction. Durden and Norton's character form the bare-knuckle brawling Fight Club as a means of letting other young men just like them know the real pain of defeat and the true validation of victory. Fight Club spreads and spawns an underground movement that challenges corporate authority in the name of individual identity.

"This is one hell of a film! First rule is don't ask questions about Fight Club. Second rule is the same. If you follow these simple rules, chances are you'll be blown away by Fight Club, a violent explosion of brave ideas and skewed concepts when the subconscious forces fantasy and reality head to head. It's in-your-face and the punches are below the belt. This is not meant to be a comfortable trip, but a wild spin on the edge of sanity. All boundaries are stretched until we scream inside. Director David Fincher has skillfully succeeded at creating a suffocating cult world of extremes that simultaneously fascinates and devastates. Inventive high tech visuals surround us in a 3D claustrophobic zone as we journey deep into our inner being, tension simmering. Jim Uhl's clever script captures the mood unfalteringly, enhanced by a thumping soundtrack and superb production design. This is one frightening tale. Cast against type, Edward Norton embraces the complexities, while Brad Pitt chisels his way into a character that acquire a new layer, every time one is peeled away. This is a good role for Pitt, allowing his talents to be the focus rather than his looks. You will forget neither character easily they are seared into our subconscious like a branding iron that scorches invasively. The entire cast is excellent Helena Bonham Carter, MeatLoaf they are all loose canons about to blow. And they all look as though they are having one hell of a bad hair day. Provocative, confronting and disturbing, Fight Club enrages, enriches and stimulates a gasp of desperation at our weaknesses, strengths and daring to cross the boundaries of our comfort zone fearlessly and with derision."
Louise Keller

"Don't even try to categorise this film. But if you must, Chick Flick it ain't. Fight Club is aimed squarely at male Gen-Xers and those who wish they were. It's mildly futuristic - an exaggerated version of now - and unashamedly polemical. But it's also a great action movie, an ironically understated comedy, a compelling psychodrama and all with a monumentally audacious twist that doesn't just mess with your mind, it headbutts you and leaves you bleeding on the floor. Ultimately, it's a slickly seductive examination of the role of young men in a consumer obsessed society which has replaced fear with anxiety and triumph with comfort. The focus is firmly on the two leads, Norton and Pitt, with Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf Aday in cartoonish roles as, respectively a hedonistic, emotion-starved, sex-hungry, two-timing girlfriend and a man whose post-castration (for testicular cancer) hormone treatment has left him with breasts. Yep, the symbolism is as subtle as a kick in the nuts and just as effective. Norton's convincing character takes an emotional journey from nobody to somebody, stopping off at "everyman" along the way, and we gladly go with him. The Fight Clubs are believable, as are the mantra-chanting, unquestioning movement, with its chilling echoes of Nazism, that they become. The fight sequences are sickening, not because they're extreme but because they are frighteningly real. In the same way that Clockwork Orange - with which Fight Club is already being compared - gave violence a balletic quality, this movie gives the idea of young fellas punching seven shades of shoe polish out of each other a somewhat romantic sense of nobility. Feminists may howl at this testosterone fest, and not without good reason. Pacifists may cringe at the thought of copy-cat Fight Clubs springing up in the cellars of our cities (if the movie doesn't inspire that, the tabloid media certainly will). But most film fans will come away with one thought in their minds: I really must go and see this again."
Jimmy Thomson

The first effect of Fight Club is 'think'. The second effect of Fight Club is 'think'. You'll have heard about the violence and the confronting subject matter, but you won't feel it coming at you. And it only lasts as a think film while you're in the clutches of it; the tension - tightly maintained in what is a superlative achievement in cold blooded audience manipulation by a filmmaker for a desired effect - finds no release. The payoff spluffers like a balloon deflating in a weak grip. But by then the exhaustion has set in and any resolution is welcome, despite the deal of credulity required. As with Seven, Fincher shows up to be a perpetrator of arrogant and selfish human behaviour without redemption. Fight Club loses balance as a result, but it does so spectacularly and with pyrotechnic craftsmanship. There is no doubt that the film is gripping - as well as singularly revolting in some parts. It glories in a seedy and disintegrating world which defies its own analysis - but we are never given time to latch on until after the end credits, thanks to production design that matches Fincher's own blackened world view and a cast so attuned to the emotional pitch of the film that I worried for their off screen sanity. Norton and Pitt are mesmerising as the two sides of a single coin, and Bonham Carter is at least interesting in this anti-type role of a haggard and hyperactive hussy. The appealing concept at the heart of the film, that you have to destroy your old self to renew in a desired new form, is half-buried in the angst ridden ugliness of Fincher's take on it. So, on the one hand it's a spiky and spectacular film, on the other it is too cold to hit its visceral marks, except for the visual effects. Young males may well find it cathartic - with a realisation that their feelings of isolation are not unique. Maybe it will be a lightning rod for them. And despite my disappointment in the handling, I think it's a film I would urge you to see."
Andrew L. Urban

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

"Sometimes it's hard to be a man. Now especially." See Nick Roddick's FEATURE

Jimmy Thomson talks to MEATLOAF in Venice

See our SOUNDTRACK and DVD Reviews.

FIGHT CLUB (R)
(US)

CAST: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Jared Leto, Zach Grenier

PRODUCERS: Ross Bell, Cean Chaffin, Art Linson

DIRECTOR: David Fincher

SCRIPT: Jim Uhls (from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeff Cronenweth

EDITOR: Jim Haygood

MUSIC: John King, Michael Simpson (The Dust Brothers)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex McDowell

RUNNING TIME: 141 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Twentieth Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 11, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: June 7, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017