Fight Club

A quick note: I love the movie "Fight Club" (movie site, IMDB link). It's about a nameless insomniac whose accumulated material possessions can't prevent him from feeling like there's something missing. He finds temporary solace in attending support groups for diseases he doesn't have, but even those fail to give him comfort when an equally desperate woman begins showing up at the same meetings for what seems to be the same reasons. Then he meets Tyler Durden, a confident, headstrong anti-modern-society soap salesman, and together they accidentally start a men's support group with a difference: Fight Club. Eventually, what starts out as a rebellion against social roles tumbles towards anarchy, and this is where the film gets interesting.

There is of course fighting in Fight Club. About a third of the movie tracks the narrator's depressing existence - his designer house, morbid occupation, and many and varied support groups. The next third deals with Fight Club itself, with some darkly funny episodes. The final part is about Tyler Durden's new project, which the narrator races to discover.

It's kind of hard to categorise this movie. The film is not really action, not really drama, not really humour. I reckon it's a black look at the modern man and what happens when people decide to make a difference.

The movie is rated "R" in Australia: it has one short and not particularly graphic sex scene and a fair serve of swearing, plus some brutal fight scenes, but it seems to be given such a harsh rating because of the depiction of anti-social acts (like suicide attempts and self-mutilation) and a plot to blow up credit card company buildings, from the point of view of the infiltrators (this plotline is revealed in the first couple of minutes, so I'm not giving anything away here). If this was a movie about cops who were out to catch the bad guys, I reckon it would be rated MA. It's just my opinion, but in my mind it's only about as bloody as Rocky II. And I'd go so far to say that unlike most modern action movies, the villain does not invariably die a horrible and bloody death.

A turning point in this movie, which up until that point could have been a darker, more twisted Ferris Bueller's Day Off, occured about halfway through the film when Tyler Durden talks to the men in a Fight Club chapter and delivers the following lines (taken from the IMDB quotes page for the film):

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering...an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war...our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.
The above quote really sucked me in. Brad Pitt delivers it brilliantly. Tyler Durden is right. And what am I going to do about it?

There's lots more lines reflecting a discomfort and mistrust of modern society that are uttered almost as throw away phrases (you have to listen carefully because not a single sentence is wasted in the film). I think I'm attracted to Fight Club as a film because it's honest and admits there are questions, without necessarily trying to provide answers. Watching this movie is a bit like watching a train crash in slow motion - there's such a build up that the ending seems inevitable, but I reckon the film has many surprises and keeps you thinking.

My friend Phil had a quick appraisal for the film after sitting with a group of guys to watch it late last Friday night: the biggest waste of two hours ever :-)

Decide for yourself, and go and rent Fight Club!

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