Directed by the Academy Award winning David Fincher, the 1999 film Fight Club is a must watch classic for this generation; A thriller, filled with dark humor, drama, but most importantly—the reason it’s a must watch: the legendary performances by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, along with philosophical content that pushes boundaries in today’s society.
In the thriller, Ed Norton stars as an unnamed character simply known as the Narrator, struggling through life working as an automobile recall specialist while suffering from depression and insomnia. But don’t get the wrong idea. The movie isn’t too dramatic. David Fincher’s injection of dark humor in certain areas makes it hilarious. Like the way the story starts at the climax of the movie with Brad Pitt’s role Tyler Durden, asking the Narrator if he has any last words to say, in which he can only muster up mumbling sounds— while his voice announces in the background “with a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels”- like fun fact guys, even though I’m about to die, Im thinking about my grammar… A comment that diffuses the tension of the scene while keeping your eyes glued like a thriller should.
In another scene, the Narrator starts to explain how it all began: finding solace from insomnia from crying in a support group for men with testicular cancer, noting that his crying partner “had b*tch tits” and that “even babies didn’t sleep that good” after. Ed Norton’s cynical voice narrates from beginning to end, giving an edgy vibe to the film while keeping you firmly entertained. The plot continues with the Narrator meeting Tyler Durdan, a part-time soap salesman (that he makes from stealing human fat from liposuction clinics), a part-time movie projectionist where he splices pictures of male genitalia in between scenes for audiences to witness, and part time waiter, who doesn’t serve a soup that he hasn’t urinated in.
In simple words he is what the Narrator is not, a rebel, and non conformist. After they met on a flight home, the Narrator goes back to his apartment to find its been blown to bits from a gas leak. He calls up Tyler and meets him at a bar and afterwards in the parking lot Tyler initiates a fight with him, and they both like it. He moves in where Tyler squats (an abandoned old house), and they beat each other bloody every night outside the bar. Eventually more and more people join and it grows into the Fight Club.
As intriguing as the story is, the concepts introduced in the film are cherry on top. They spark a revolutionary theme. Among them are eye opening views on society’s flaws, consumerism, and modern-day slavery. The theme largely originates from the author of Fight Club (the book) but is set in stone in the motion picture and is highly influential coming from rebel antagonist Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). They’re quotes meant for our time. “You’re not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank, your not the car you drive, your not the contents of your wallet, your not your f**king khakis. Your the all-singing, all-dancing, crap of the world.” In an age where so many are obsessed with what other people think, the film is a direct jab these cultural norms.
Furthermore, the Narrator’s apartment, in which he describes it as his “Ikea nesting instinct,” is filled with everything from furniture to dish ware from Ikea catalogs, almost as if it fills his soul. Tyler responds to the Narrator’s irritation from his apartment being blown apart by saying “F**k off with your sofa units and green stripe patterns. I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.” Consumerism in US is at a peak, and these call outs for change would make many wonder how they live their lives. Its why many consider the film a must-watch.
Lastly, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt’s spectacular duo is the glue that holds the film. From little details, to ways they went above and beyond, they lived in their roles. The film is filled with impromptu, in the part where Tyler initiates their first fight, he asks the Narrator to punch him. In the script, Norton was supposed to punch him lightly in the shoulder, but instead hit him hard in his ear delivering the reaction from Brad, “you punched me in the ear??” Along with Edward apologizing, it was all real. In scenes where they were drunk, they actually got drunk. They made their fighting as realistic as possible by actually using boxing, martial arts and Ultimate Fighting Championship moves on each other. Their physiques were sculpted to fit their characters, as the movie progressed, Brad bulked up to show how involved Tyler was in the fights, and Norton got skinnier, starving himself to show how the Narrator’s mental state was deteriorating.
In one scene, Norton literally beats himself to pulp, throwing himself against a book shelf, punching himself in the face, and falling down on a glass table, smashing it. It was all for the act, and he spared nothing, not even his own body.
Brad really knew how to turn something beautiful (himself) into something ugly (Tyler). When he’s squatting in his abandoned house, the sense of how repulsive his character was shone through his acting. After seeing him bike around his flooded kitchen in nothing but a pink robe with a lit cigarette in his mouth and then falling face first into brown ankle deep water, you were no longer looking at Brad Pitt all, it was pure Tyler Durdan.
The fusion of the two (Brad and Norton) really brought the movie and their characters to life. Without them, the film’s powerful impact would have surely diminished.
To sum it up, if theres any classic that should be watched, its Fight Club. Not only does it satisfy as a thriller and dark comedy, but adds whip cream on top with philosophical quotes and brings it home with full throttle acting from Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. I guess I’ve broken the first two rules of fight club, which is that you don’t talk about fight club. But it was worth it, this movie cannot be missed.