Director: David Fincher / Script: Jim Uhls (from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel) / DoP: Jeff Cronenweth / Editor: James Haygood / Music: Dust Brothers
Cast: Edward Norton / Brad Pitt / Meat Loaf / Helena Bonham Carter / Jared Leto
The Second Rule of Fight Club is: talk about Fight Club…
Any review of Fight Club inevitably leads to, err, talking about Fight Club, thus breaking the Club’s first rule. Oh, well. You can’t make an omelette, etc… But what an omelette!
Seventeen years on from release, Fincher’s high-watermark remains important and depressingly relevant. Chuck Palahniuk’s novel was skilfully and reverently filleted for the screen by Jim Uhls, leaving loyal readers satisfied. Casting Brad Pitt & Edward Norton as the two leads was inspired; they made these roles their own, as did Helena Bonham-Carter as Marla. For the few of you who haven’t seen it, Norton plays a disillusioned, insomniac white collar drone who undergoes a schizophrenic meltdown that leads to him meeting Brad Pitt, aka Tyler Durden esq. The results are surprising.
Aside from making a line of high quality soap, the ‘urban agitation’ fostered by this odd couple, soon leads to something both liberating and dark. At the heart of their partnership, is a liberalising embrace of fighting. Down and dirty ultimate, ULTIMATE fighting, in which they and their growing number of post-emasculated disciples beat each other up, in order to rediscover their masculinity. Palahniuk honed this signal idea into a reaction against the IKEA domesticity that he saw his generation falling victim to; Fight Club was his line in the sand. A rallying call to arms. Or to fists. Fincher merely conveyed this to the screen, aided by the genius of DoP Jeff Cronenweth.
That it’s stood the test of time so well, is testament both to their skills and to the timeless insights of the novel. Yes, I suppose its twists don’t stand-up to a second viewing, in the same way that the Sixth Sense was always a one-trick-pony, but what a pony! ‘Club remains playful, anarchistic, subversive, disturbing and true. It’s quotable. Provacative. And. True. Did I mention that already?
You met me at a very strange time in my life…