Jack (Edward Norton) lives a comfortable existence but suffers from insomnia and attends self-help groups. Together with a rebel named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), he forms a bare-knuckle boxing club as means of enabling other young men to let out their pent-up emotion.
Fight Club has a number of seductive ingredients in it – there's the obvious one, Brad Pitt, but there's also director David Fincher. Where do you begin with this film? With the controversy or with it? I'm going for it.
Edward Norton is the narrator of the film, he's never actually given a name but we get to know him pretty well through voice-overs. We know he's an insomniac, we know he's blanded out by the world he lives in and we know he goes to self-help classes so that he can experience other people's pain. We also know that anyone else on the same trip he's on is a turn-off, so when Marla (Helena Bonham-Carter) turns up for the same reasons, his experience is somehow deadened. And then he meets Tyler Durdan (Brad Pitt) a seductive creature who introduces him into the experience of fighting, bare-chested, bare knuckled, just to experience some sort of feeling again.
At a certain point in this film I thought, uh-oh this is not good, this is so provocative it's dangerous, but then – the film breaks through the point of accommodation, past the danger zone into an area that is truly meaningful and dynamically important. This is a film that addresses current social disenchantment, that addresses the disenfranchisement of males, that doesn't have any answers but does in fact have a moral, if you are even half-awake. For the first time ever director David Fincher finds subject matter to match his visceral, exciting style after the disturbing Seven and the less interesting The Game.
Brad Pitt finds the role of a life-time in Tyler, the charismatic devil who uses the fat from liposuction to make soap and the disappointment of the male credo to create chaos. Edward Norton is deceptively fantastic as the narrator and Helena Bonham-Carter jumps about as far as she can from Merchant-Ivory to make an impact as Marla. I think this is such a brave film – there are so few of them it has to be applauded.
David's comments:There's no doubt David Fincher is an important and innovative filmmaker – Fight Club is brilliant, intelligent, inventive, provocative. It's also thoroughly, deeply nasty. I hated the violence of the film, which I think is seriously overdone – it's needlessly, relentlessly brutal. It's a pity the film was so skewed in this direction because in many ways it's mightily impressive. Three terrific performances.