Director Spotlight: Fight Club
“I am Jack’s smirking revenge”
The second film in our David Fincher spotlight is…you do not talk about Fight Club. Which will make this rather difficult, so I’m going to break that rule at the risk of incurring the wrath of Tyler Durden.
Fight Club, released in 1999, is the story of Tyler Durden, the film’s nameless narrator, and the club that shall not be named. Everything starts innocently, with men simply beating each other senseless, but then it becomes something much more nefarious. Pre-9/11, the story takes on a strange homegrown terrorist subplot, which serves to expose aspects of the story that are unspoken in the early stages of the film.
This film, which is an adaptation of a Chuck Palahniuk novel, is a crazy menagerie of revelations and plot twists. With so many strange turns, Fincher and his editing crew deserve a lifetime achievement award of some sort. While Fincher gets so many things right, including stylistic choices, frenetic action, and quick cut moments, the thing he truly gets right is creating the illusion that there is no real illusion. For 9/10ths of the film, everything seems ordinary, or as ordinary as things can in the world Palahniuk created. Then, suddenly the rug is pulled out, and there is no hardwood floors, but rather a strange substance hereto unknown to us. Palahniuk’s words, combined with Fincher’s amazing eye, brought into the world a gamechanger that has been copied time after time to no avail.
While the source material and directing are key to the film’s success, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s performances are what keeps the audience captivated. Pitt, in what is likely his funniest role, is brilliant and Norton is a spectacle. Both actors are at their peak in this movie, displaying a side of themselves previously unseen.
The first rule of Fight Club is, you don’t talk about Fight Club, with good reason. If I continue I will reveal a part of the film that is so pure and vital to the story that I would never forgive myself. In this day and age, people do sometimes wait for the right time to view a film, and I do not want to be the harbinger of awesome news that might ruin their viewing experience. So I will close with a quote from Tyler Durden: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” And while we are not special in Tyler Durden’s eyes, he and his story are worth seeing, again and again.