Monday, June 23, 2014

Fight Club (1999)

Director: David Fincher
Writers:  Chuck Palahnuik (Novel), Jim Uhls
Cast:      Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter

An insomniac office worker (Edward Norton) looking for a a way to change his life crosses path with a devil-may-care soap maker (Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden) and they form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more...

This was my third watch of this Fincher film and I had never found it to be all that great in my first two watches. First time I saw it was before I joined for my first job and the second time was after I quit that job to pursue higher education. On first watch I was kind of feeling clever for working out the twist much before we are supposed to get it. Second time, I liked the film but was not really enamored by the central idea of fight club. This time round I realized that I  had missed the point in my previous two watches. The film is not really meant to bamboozle the audience with the split personality twist and the fight club and the fights are only minor part of the story. It is really about the disillusionment with the materialistic nature of today's white collar workers where they are in constant race to own things that they really don't need. As Tyler Durden says things you own ends up owning you. This is one thing majority of the World would realize is happening to their sad lives. Film got plenty of criticism for glorifying the fight club part of the story and some real clubs had spawned after the release of the film. In the film the portrayal of fight club and its members is anything but glorifying. The members who wanted to get freedom from their jobs ends up being Space Monkeys for Tyler Durden's project ready to be sacrificed for the greater good. The film is really making fun of these people especially at their gullibility and inability to think for themselves. What I mean to say is that whilst the film is correct in terms of conveying the feeling and philosophy behind their actions it is not essentially justifying it.

It is really a film that demands to be viewed multiple times. Plenty of clues are there from the beginning for the split personality twist. In the first scene with Edward Norton, where he describes his insomniac conditions, Tyler Durden flashes before his eyes twice. Plenty of other clues are there like the narrator saying all three of Durden, Marla and himself are never in the same room. Only minor gripe is that we shouldn't be seeing Durden when Norton himself is not seeing him when both of them are in the same scene. At the airport scene Durden is seen stealing a sports car when narrator is looking the other way. There are also plenty of subtle references to it being a film. When the Police investigator calls the narrator and informs him that his flat's explosion was due to arson and implies he is a suspect, he goes on a passionate speech about how that flat and its furniture meant so much to him and it was essentially him that got destroyed. He then ends it with a line 'I'd like to thank the academy...'. Also look out for the cock just before the end credits which was inevitable after the explanation of Tyler splicing porno frames into family films. 

I am not a huge fan of David Fincher and this is the only film of his that I think is worth rewatching. I have seen Zodiac once and thought it was his best work but I think I need to watch it again to properly judge. It is a shame that Fight Club bombed at the box office and one major reason for that it was marketed targeting the wrong audience by giving prominence to the fight scenes in the trailer. So it ended up being a favorite for those who didn't realize that it was really making fun of them.

Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. 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's 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. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

Rating: 5/5