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Film Review: Fight Club

Updated on December 20, 2016
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Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.

Background

In 1999, David Fincher released Fight Club, based off the 1996 graphic novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. Starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, and Jared Leto, the film grossed $100.9 at the box office.

Synopsis

An unnamed man has grown discontent with his life, which only seems to revolve around his corporate job, attending support groups for diseases he doesn’t have and mindless consumerism. However, during a business flight, he meets a charismatic man named Tyler Durden and the two start a support group called “Fight Club." Soon, everything spirals out of control.

Review

Fight Club is quite interesting as it deals with how two people with completely different personalities respond to a society filled with corporate consumerism. On one hand, Norton’s character is your basic, everyday office drone who really has no life. All he does is go to work, add furniture to his apartment and attend those groups for some human contact. On the multiple occasions when Durden is threatening his life and telling him to think of something to live for, he simply can’t. All he really seems to be good for is drifting through life, mindlessly ingesting and consuming from one point to the next. After meeting Durden and finding his apartment blown up, he seems to break free of being the drone and finds a sort of purpose in Fight Club. Yet, as the film rolls on, he seems to be getting thinner and thinner, looking more and more ragged.

On the other hand, there’s Durden, who seeks the opposite of Norton’s character. He constantly throws caution to the wind and continually puts himself and others in dangerous situations, all in the name of feeling alive. Furthermore, he rebels against the corporate consumerism of society, refusing to fit in any sort of hole it tells him to fit, and seeks to destroy it. He uses the participants in Fight Club to bring about Project Mayhem so he can bring said society down. As the film goes further and further, he physically gets stronger and stronger and better looking.

The ultimate explanation of the relationship between Norton’s character and Durden becomes completely clear after the reveal of who Durden is. He’s essentially the physical manifestation of who Norton’s character wants to be: physically good looking and fit, successful in his endeavors, able to bed the woman he desires and not a corporate slave to society. What’s also interesting is how Norton’s character realizes how Durden has been working and making all his plans without him finding out; it’s established that Durden does his work at night when everyone’s asleep. At the same time, Norton’s character has made it clear that he’s an insomniac with amnesia of nighttime events…

A disturbing aspect of this film, though, is the fandom that seems to have centered on treating Durden like he’s the hero of the film, having Norton’s character break out of his humdrum life. Durden may have a point, but he’s no hero, rather an insane anarcho-terrorist extremist. Durden is the primary cause of conflict and the resolution to Norton’s character to be truly happy and truly experience love is to make it so Durden no longer exists. The message of the film isn’t so much that consumerism is bad and society needs to be destroyed, but that life needs to be lived to the fullest and that society shouldn’t merely be consumed. In other words, instead of just surviving, moving from one point to the next and ingesting what comes our way mindlessly, people should thrive and seek to create a meaningful contribution to society and build genuine connections with those around them.

5 stars for Fight Club

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Adapted Screenplay

Empire Awards

  • Best British Actress (Helena Bonham Carter)

Jupiter Awards

  • Best International Actor (Edward Norton)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Film Editing

Online Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best DVD
  • Best DVD Special Features
  • Best DVD Commentary
  • Third Place - Top Ten Films of the Year

Southeastern Film Critics Society Awards

Third Place - Best Adapted Screenplay

Yoga Awards

  • Worst Foreign Actor (Brad Pitt)
  • Worst Foreign Actress (Helena Bonham Carter)




Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Edward Norton)
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Brad Pitt)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helena Bonham Carter)
  • Best Cast Ensemble

Brit Awards

  • Best Soundtrack

Costume Designers Guild Awards

  • Excellence in Contemporary Film

Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture

DVD Exclusive Video Premiere Awards

  • Best DVD Overall Original Supplemental Material

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Awards

  • Best DVD

Motion PictureSound Editors Golden Reel Awards

  • Best Sound Editing - Effects & Foley

MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Fight

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
  • Best First Screenplay
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Sound Effects Editing
  • Best Titles Sequence

Online Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor (Edward Norton)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Director
  • Best Editinbg
  • Best Official Website for a Film

Political Film Society Awards

  • Democracy

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture

The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards

  • Worst Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter)
  • Worst On-Screen Female Hairstyle (Helena Bonham Carter)
  • Worst On-Screen Male Hairstyle (Brad Pitt)


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