It is a rare year for movies. It's been a long time since I've seen such a consistent streak of good movies. Since "Blair Witch Project", I've seen movie after movie that has absolutely thrilled me. The summer started with the disappointments of "The Mummy" and "The Phantom Menace", but has picked up steam, with such films as "The Sixth Sense", "Three Kings", and "American Beauty."
And now I've seen "Fight Club." This film is easily the most original and daring film I've seen this year. But let me get this right out in the open. This film is not for everybody. A lot of people see it are going to hate it, and those who hate it are going to hate it violently. However, those who like it, are going to love it just as violently. This is a film that speaks powerfully to some key issues about modern society and the crushing power of our impersonal capitalist system. However, it does it in an incredibly innovative and enjoyable way. A lot of people are going to say "It's a guy film" and dismiss it; it is true that a male centered film with only three female speaking roles, but the issues that "Fight Club" deals with are everywhere in American at the end of the millenium.
Rule #1 and #2 of Fight Club are: "You do not talk about Fight Club." So I'm not going to talk about the plot. What I can talk about is the directing, which is superb. I expected nothing less from David Fincher, who directed the exceptional "Seven" and the original, if flawed "The Game." Fincher's unique directing style and cinematography are reason enough to see this movie. It is great to see a movie that manages to use special effects and trick cinematography to further plot and character. First time scriptwriter Jim Uhls has created a dynamite script full of wit and intelligence that Fincher uses to full potential.
Another element that "Fight Club" really excels at is the quality of the acting. Edward Norton continues to prove that he is one of the most gifted actors out there; he makes his role as the nameless narrator look easy. The depth of emotion and thoughts that this character goes through are quite amazing. The numerous transformations he goes through in "Fight Club" have to be seen to be believed. Norton's counter-part, Tyler Durden, is played by Brad Pitt with astonishing ability. In "Fight Club" Pitt is finally fulfilling his earlier potential shown in movies such as "Seven" and "12 Monkeys." These two fine actors are the center of "Fight Club," and their unlikely but utterly believable friendship drives most of the plot.
However, chances are the acting and directing are not what you'll be talking about after leaving this film. The violence of this movie is what has everybody talking. I want to emphasize that this movie does not glorify violence. In fact, it does the exact opposite. The violence that takes place in the fight clubs is abhorrent, a knee-jerk reaction to a society that only values people as consumers and cogs in a system, where redemption is promised by commodities. The only way they have found to feel alive is to beat each other up. But as the narrator observes: "When the fight is over, nothing is solved." At one point, he even refers to the fight clubs as his "wasted life." He beats someone nearly to death, and his only rationale is "I wanted to destroy something beautiful." Their actions are not to be imitated or admired.
"Fight Club" is a film of surprising energy and wit. What is admirable about it is that it can be viewed as a powerful socio-political statement, or simply as an immensely entertaining film. This movie will be latched onto by its admirers, and raked through the mud by its detractors. It has my heartiest recommendations, but consider yourself warned.
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