Fight Club (1999)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #72


Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: October 15, 1999
Sub-Genre: Cult Film
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $63,000,000
Box Office: $100,900,000
Running Time: 139 minutes
Director: David Fincher
Producers: Art Linson, Ceán Chaffin, Ross Grayson Bell
Screenplay: Jim Uhls
Based on Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Special Effects: Anthony Allen Barlow
Visual Effects: Dennis Berardi
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth
Score: Dust Brothers
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth
Editing: James Haygood
Studio: Regency Enterprises
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Stars: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier, Richmond Arquette, David Andrews, George Maguire, Eugenie Bondurant, Christina Cabot and Jared Leto as Angel Face


Suggested Audio Candy

Pixies “Where Is My Mind”


The first rule of this appraisal is that you don’t talk about this appraisal.

If there’s one thing that yanks my chain, it’s spoilers. Folk simply don’t think before running their mouth sometimes and the repercussions of loose lips can be downright devastating with particular works. Take David Fincher’s Fight Club for example, one badly timed spoiler has the ability of sucking the very life-force from this marvellous film. Of course, chances are you’ll already be aware of the twist in the tale here but, regardless, I shall be tiptoeing through the tulips to preserve its ambiguity for any potential freshmen. You see, Fincher’s film is hands down one of the most startlingly disarming pieces of cinematic plutonium from the last twenty years. Moreover, in Edward Norton it has a lead with intensity and purpose and, in Brad Pitt, a sidekick with all the swagger and limitless verve to inspire a small army of fellow Durdens.


Okay I’ve greased up my fists now, the shirt’s off, and I can feel the cold tarmac under the balls of my feet. Through the littered egg shells I shall commence, with all the stealth I can muster. Fret not as years of Spy vs. Spy has provided me ample training. I can say this, cat still firmly in bag, watch Fight Club two times and make them concurrent viewings as it will reward you with riches unbounded should you choose to do so. I promise you will be in the very best company as observing our two fragmented leads spiking from one another’s’ lay-ons is an endeavor too joyous to calculate. Two young artists at the top of their trees, Norton and Pitt could not have been better suited to the roles of The Narrator and Tyler Durden.


My primary introduction to Norton came courtesy of jarring drama American History X and his militant turn there showcased his enigmatic raw talent exquisitely. Here was a composed and thoughtful protagonist who, should he be fucked with, would not procrastinate over feeding you a length of curb. Having watched Norton open a guy’s maw up like an unlicensed dental nurse, we know full well this is a dude with the courage of his convictions so we salivate at the prospect of tagging along with our meek yet sardonic host for the foreseeable.

brad-pitt-Meet-Joe-Black-Vogue-14Oct14-Rex_b“I am Jack’s Smirking Revenge.”

Meanwhile, Pitt is an entirely different kettle of fish. Women find him magnetically alluring while men struggle to not want to punch his top box in. The reason for this is simplicity personified – we’re fucking jealous. He is impossibly handsome (as Joe Black he resembled a Tussaud’s cast-off), as well as ridiculously well-endowed with charisma and a brash demeanor which we find almost smug. He’s probably better hung than we are, a more thorough lover, better at basketball, you’re getting my gist right? However, try as we may to despise his very bones, we eventually have to succumb to the simple fact that this guy positively shits plutonium.


Whether playing a worryingly authentic “pikey” (they prefer the name “travelers”) in Guy Ritchie’s eminently quotable Snatch or growing younger like a backward Starman in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, he somehow always manages to win us over. The reason for this is without any question: he is one of the finest professionals to grace our screens since Robert Shaw, Richard Harris and Marlon Brando all left their physical shells behind them. Like the similarly proficient George Clooney he isn’t afraid to ape himself but when required can sell his character to us like a Moroccan rug salesman. Here he doesn’t sell it, he gives it away and we’re hopelessly invested from the very moment he introduces himself.


Fight Club wastes no time in introducing our two main protagonists to one another as a rather unorthodox association develops. Norton, whose character remains unnamed, is a white-collared everyman screaming on mute and afflicted with ongoing insomnia. Things are looking decidedly bleak and he is desperate for a way to release all his pent-up angst so, when his apartment is condemned through misfortune, soap salesman Durden throws him a bone and provides his new buddy with a roof over his head. While the foundations of his dilapidated mansion are somewhat shaky, it is here that he begins to relocate a sense of worth and he soon finds a channel for his frustration.


“I am Jack’s raging bile duct.”

Getting punched square in the face repeatedly may appear a less than inviting proposition but, after years of feeling anesthetized, he welcomes the refreshing sting it provides. Moreover, the pair appear to be onto something and decide to form their own exclusive men only club, a real mom’s the word kind of deal. Night after night they come to blows and, before long, reams of burly meat heads (loaves too) are lining up to join the exclusive troupe devised by our club secretaries. Like worker ants, these faithful minions begin to restore the rickety rafters of their rapidly decomposing abode with the sole payment requested for their endeavor being a knuckle sandwich (or loaf).


“His name was Robert Paulson.”

Among the pummeled faces in this particularly rowdy crowd are Meat Loaf Aday, whose performance is as large as the fun bags that dangle from his chest, and pretty boy rock frontman Jared Leto sporting an angelic face that is thirty punches from pulp. The new model army are unswervingly dedicated to their cause and gratefully accept all the drool and busted molars that come with the territory. There is only one drumbeat to which they march and march they do with the unshakable belief that anarchy is the new peace. The uprising is inevitable and, mundane existence, no longer their guiding light. There is so much commentary about the society we live/suffocate in and our will to break out of our mental shackles. Meanwhile, it’s only The Narrator who appears to question its viability.


“I can’t get married – I’m a thirty-year-old boy.”

He is suddenly lost in a labyrinth entirely of his own construction. His relationships begin to make less and less sense, none more so than his turbulent on-off affair with fellow support group junkie Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter). He is unable to fathom her involvement with, not only him, but also his amorous associate. As a direct result he treats her with contempt, then intrigue, then affection, then contempt again. The pair trade numerous emotional blows and this dizzying dynamic simmers exquisitely before ultimately coming to the boil in dramatic fashion. By that point, it feels as though we have gone a full ten rounds and all that is left is for Pixies to make love to our ear drums. Rarely has an encore felt as fitting as Where is My Mind does here.


“I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.”

If you are yet to have experienced this C4 strapped cinematic orgasm then be aware of your imminent undertaking. Its impact is subterranean and it is shot with every bit of the anarchy it portrays, using freeze-frames and jump-cuts to deliberately disrupt your serenity throughout. You truly feel the flurry of fists deep in your abdomen and recoil mentally whilst struggling to regain equilibrium. Indeed, you can actually feel the dirt forming under your nails as you watch it. That said, you may think twice about using soap after watching this movie. I’d suggest just soaking it in, spitting it out when the bell chimes, then going back in for another round.


“And then, Tyler was gone.”

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 10/10


WARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned…… Tyler


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Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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