The Narrator ‘Jack’ (Edward Norton) is living an empty life, living through the IKEA catalogue in a dead end job and suffering from insomnia. ‘Jack’ is an everyman, the representation of every man in their lonely lives. His chronic insomnia finds him crying into the inflated ‘bitch tits’ of Bob, a member of a self help group for testicular cancer, to find his release. He gets addicted, joining many different self-help groups to enable him to sleep. That is until Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) starts to visit them too. Unable to get his release, ‘Jack’ is stuck in his empty existence once again, merely running on fumes – until he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Tyler is everything ‘Jack’ wants to be – confident, successful, good with women and most of all, has control. After the destruction of his condo, The Narrator moves in with Tyler and together they establish Fight Club, a place where a man is free to live out their primal urges through violence. From there, Project Mayhem and its loyal army come into existence aiming to destroy the consumerist images of the world.
Norton’s portrayal of the white collar insomniac is captivating with his witty one-liners and serious inner monologues. He is the backbone of the story. Matt Damon was previously considered for the role of ‘Jack’, however I feel this wouldn’t have worked. Norton gives the feeling of distance between himself and the real world, something I feel a main stream actor such as Damon may not have brought to the role.
Norton however, is eclipsed by Pitt’s performance. The enigmatic Tyler Durden has the confidence and ideas that many men would love to have; spouting speeches which contain a great amount of inspiration and truth. He is the man that women love to hate (especially his on-off lover Marla) and fashion sense that wouldn’t be envied by anyone. Durdens crazy ideas draw you into the film, shocking and thrilling the whole way through.
With the added presence of Carter as the attention seeking, neurotic Marla creates the perfect cast. Together, they bounce off of each other with such ease that the story simply forms around them.
Filmed mostly at night, shadowy sets and dark lighting cast a grimy shadow across the film showing the dystopian world that our characters live in. The dark colours of the Fight Club locations show the dark underbelly of the world where illegal activities happen at the pleasure of those involved. The unusual way the film is put together, such as seeing the shaking film reel, as well as many single frame shots, gives the film an original feeling; something that would only work within the context of this film. Coupled with realistic looking blood and close ups of those injured it is enough to put people off fighting for life. With every skull smash and blood splatter paired with realistic sound effects for those involved it is a way of life, a way of regaining their masculinity in an emasculated world.
Fincher’s ability to turn a film about grungy underground mayhem into a witty and clever cult film is amazing. The story is fantastic, with surprise twists along the way drawing us into the mayhem of Tyler and ‘Jacks’ lives. A thoroughly original film, brilliantly put together with a fantastic cast pulling the whole thing together. It definitely deserves a five star and must head the list of must see films!