Fight Club is a cult classic directed by David Fincher. While its violence, themes and messages meant that it didn’t do particularly well initially in the box office, it soon became a hit after it premiered on DVD, and is now considered one of the best modern films by many cinema-goers and film publications.
However, considering that I was only two years old when the film came out in cinemas, it’s safe to say that I did not watch the film at that time. Instead, I’ve only recently watched it, this year – after studying it as a focus film as part of my Film Studies A-level qualification.
And yes, due to this review, we have broken the first (and second) rule of Fight Club. Well, there’s no going back now – here are my thoughts on Fight Club.
A statement against anti-capitalism
Fincher’s direction really adds depth and enjoyment to the film – from a sweeping shot through a bin full of discarded wrappers and coffee cups that becomes a statement against anti-capitalism, through the stark lighting and monotonic monologue of the protagonist warning against a future ‘Planet Starbucks’.
Yes, I might be reading into that a little bit, perhaps watching it through the analytical lens of my A-level qualification, but it is the first view of the bin and its contents that made me think, that’s for sure – which means that Fincher must be doing something very impressive with his direction.
One negative I did find on the film was just the general gory vibe that it had in regards to its special effects – with one particular fight scene, and shocking reveal of a character’s current condition having me literally recoil due to the blood and effects used. However, I am particularly squeamish, and from a film called Fight Club, what else could I have expected? It probably wouldn’t put most viewers off, but if you don’t like the sight of blood much, just be warned if, like me, you are watching it for the first time.
Representation of female characters
Unfortunately, despite an impressive performance by Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer, I also felt that Carter herself does not entirely get enough screentime to fully develop her character and her story, particularly outside of the lives of both Tyler and the Narrator, who Marla seems to almost revolve around. For example, she is always talking to or in the same room as either character, but never both at the same time. This was quite disappointing, particularly given how today’s cinema has improved its representation of women, with some incredibly developed female characters.
Edward Norton, however, is particularly impressive as the unnamed protagonist of the film (simply referred to as the Narrator) – becoming visibly more and more drained and weakened as the film progresses, really allowing the audience to visibly see the vulnerability of the character through the likes of his waxy, pale expressions and pained body language and performance.
All the while, his newfound friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) becomes visibly all the more stronger and buff. Pitt also pulls off an equally impressive performance – from performing the confident bravado of Tyler initially, to the extent that you, the audience, like the Narrator – are almost in awe of him, too. However, Pitt then also manages to very successfully show the darker turn that the character takes as the film progresses as he becomes more and more violent, shocking the audience with this almost effortless u-turn in performance.
Norton and Pitt also work extremely well together – with one becoming stronger and more powerful, while the other wains and weakens. While being incredibly impressive, this is just one of the subtle references to something that I didn’t guess, despite the film being nearly 20 years old.
Yes. That big twist still shocked me, and I would have never have guessed the outcome, despite the many clever hints that are sometimes even not so subtly placed throughout the film. It can be said that this twist reveal truly is a highlight of the film – making it greater and allowing the film to have much more of an impact and depth on the audience, and as a whole. It even makes me want to watch the film more than once, just so I can catch all the subtle references that lead up to the reveal.
So with its incredible depth and direction, shocking twists and turns, and some very interesting messages, and despite some off-putting violence, representation of female characters and some messages that aren’t entirely appealing, I can definitely see why Fight Club stands the test of time as a classic film, particularly due to what could possibly be one of the best film twists of modern cinema.
What do you think of Fight Club? Let us know in the comments below!