This week: Fight Club, written Chuck Palahniuk in 1996, and directed by David Fincher in 1999. Fight Club is the book that launched author Chuck Palahniuk’s career. It follows an unnamed office worker, utterly depressed and suffering from insomnia, as he goes about rejecting the materialistic trappings of his life thanks to a man name named Tyler Durden. They establish a “Fight Club”, an organisation where members beat each other up on a regular basis. From there it soon spirals into destruction, terrorism, and madness. It was a controversial flop at the box office, but became a massive hit on both video and DVD, and is now one of the most quoted and recognised popular movies of the last twenty years. The film still has some of the trappings of Hollywood, and these do detract from some of its gritty nature. By the end of book our protagonist face is totally misshapen, whereas Edward Norton (playing the worker) never stops looking handsomely roughed up. Living in a derelict house feels more cool than disgusting, and there are a couple of lines that feel a bit too cool for school. This is 20th Century Fox trying to manufacture a cult film, and Starbucks cups and beautiful actors can’t help but sit uneasily with anarchic politics and anti-consumerism.
Yet the passion is undeniable. Norton, and Pitt as Tyler Durden, arguably give career best performances. Good supporting roles from Meat Loaf and Helena Bon`xham-Carter feed them, and everyone is wonderfully entertaining. The cinematography is great, the soundtrack is killer, the production design fantastic, and so on. Fincher really went to town in regards of his direction, and each frame is a treat, be it a trip through the human brain, or a toilet full of used condoms. Strangely the book feels far less succinct that its filmic makeover. The two main characters meet on a nudist beach rather than a plane, and there is never quite the same chemistry between the two. Whereas the ending of the movie fits like a glove, in the novel it feels rather tacked on, bringing in societal criticism that feels forced and irrelevant. The last frame of the film is iconic; the last sentence of the novel confusing. Palahniuk and Fincher have evolved into behemoths of their fields, but at their points of creation the book seems like a promising start, whereas the film is the start of Fincher hitting his prime. With a big budget and an amazing creative team behind him, the latter created something iconic. Verdict: Both have been strong enough to change lives, but Fight Club the book seems unfinished, and it took the vision of Fincher and his team to bring it to perfection. Film.