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[personal profile] innocent_man
Fight Club is the movie adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf.

So you probably know the story: Norton's nameless character is an insomniac, hopeless, depressed office worker who meets Tyler Durden (Pitt), a cool, rebel, soap-makin' troll (I'll come back to that). The get to be buds, Nameless moves in with Durden, and they start Fight Club, an underground thing where Gen-X and Y dudes beat the crap out of each other. This blossoms into a terrorist organization that romps around the city doing horrible things, and culminates with them blowing up several credit card companies (the thinking there being everyone's debt goes to zero, and "it'll be total chaos"; I'm not sold on that point).

Oh, and the third act starts with the Big Reveal: Nameless is Tyler. Tyler's a hallucination. Wheee!

The movie is well-made from a technical and scripting standpoint, and it improves on a second viewing because you get a sense of how utterly insane Nameless seems when he's being so horrible to Marla (Bonham Carter) the mornings after; as far as Nameless knows, it's Tyler fucking this woman he can't stand, and he has to kick her out. Likewise, the scenes with Tyler and Nameless at Fight Club get weird if you remember there's only one of them, so who's talking out loud at any given point? I've never gone scene by scene to figure it out and I don't honestly care that much, but like I said, it's pretty tight in that sense.

Does the premise work? Is it believable that Tyler forms a cult of men who are so dissatisfied with their lives that, after getting hit in the head a bit, they're willing to give everything up and become terrorists? Or how about the police, bus drivers, sanitation workers, security guards...Tyler tells Nameless at the end of the movie that everyone's been cleared out of the areas around the buildings they're going to blow up, and in fairness financial districts don't tend to be very well populated at night, but seriously, as 9/11 showed us, you blow up a building and the debris can kill people easily enough. So any sympathy that Tyler might have gotten from us kinda should go away.

Which brings me back to the truth about Tyler: He's a troll. When we meet him, he's pissing into soup and splicing porn into kids' movies. He's a horrible, destructive asshole who operates under that "we're all animals at heart, women are our problem, we're all repressed" MRA bullshit that I and all right-thinking men hate so much. Now, in the context of the movie, he's not real - he's the pinnacle of cool from the perspective of a man who's so empty inside that he has to joined cancer survivor groups to pretend to have some depth.

The violence in the movie is graphic and explicit, but it always felt to me like the fights were too easy. Yeah, we see some hints that people have been injured, but slamming your head against concrete can, like, rattle your brain in your skull, which is a problem. But I don't know, maybe the amount of blood and teeth they throw around makes up.

Norton and Pitt both turn in great performances. Bonham Carter's character, I thought, was pretty well realized for what it was (a focus for the crazy between Norton and Pitt, a convenient scapegoat and some wasted third-act drama); Michelle felt she was kind of cardboard. Meat Loaf has a fun turn as a cancer survivor who joins the terrorist cell and winds up getting shot in the process.

All in all, it's a good movie in the sense that it's well-made, but I don't think it's aged well, and it doesn't resonate with me the way it did when I was 24 and seeing it in theaters. Which is good, 'cause I don't want to be like those assholes.

My grade: A- (love or hate the movie, it's kind of an important one)
Rewatch value: Medium-low

Next up: Finding Nemo

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January 2013

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