By Tim Bennett
“The First Rule of Fight Club: You don’t talk about Fight Club.”
Adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel by Jim Uhls and directed by Seven’s David Fincher, Fight Club is an intense, brutal movie that taps into the empowerment fantasies of post-feminist males who have become soft and weak in meaningless middle-management jobs and a consumerist society.
Jack (Ed Norton) is an automotive recall inspector and a super-consumer of items from home furnishing catalogs whom suffers from chronic insomnia. When his doctor prescribes he attend a testicular cancer support group to see what suffering really is about, Jack begrudgingly follows the advice, only to find the emotional release of 12-step programs allows him to sleep. He becomes addicted to support groups where he eventually meets another 12-step junkie, Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), a chain-smoking artsy girl he immediately despises.
When Jack’s apartment catches fire, he considers calling Marla, but thinks better of it. Instead, he telephones the number from a business card of an intriguing soapmaker, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), had given him on a recent flight. After a few beers at a local topless joint, Jack and Tyler decide, seemingly drunkenly, to fight in the parking lot. Their brawl seals their friendship and Jack moves into Tyler’s squat in an abandoned home.
The melee between the two men begins to attract a weekly following, setting up what becomes Fight Club -- men, like Robert Paulsen (Meat Loaf) who feel emasculated by life and are strangely empowered by beating the snot out of each other in barroom basements. The Fight Club takes off. Soon, there are chapters in major metropolitan areas around the country.
Fight Club is more than just two-hours of bare-chested men smacking each other around, although that’s certainly part of its gruesome appeal. Although it has plot holes you can punch a fist through, David Fincher has assembled a tightly-constructed world of borderline psychopaths, sociopaths and neurotics with terrifying Freudian (and definite homo-erotic) implications.
Fight Club is by far the best illicit bare-knuckle boxing club film since Every Which Way But Loose, and funnier, creepier and more incendiary -- with or without the orangutan. Fight Club is masterfully shot in Fincher’s frenetic music video style, with a phenomenal soundtrack by The Dust Brothers and powerfully acted by Norton, Bonham Carter and Brad Pitt doing his best Crazy Brad Pitt Guy
“The Second Rule of Fight Club: You don’t talk about Fight Club.”