Fight Club

Director:David Fincher
Writer:Jim Uhls
Fox 2000; R; 135 minutes
Cast:Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf Aday, Jared Leto

I went into Fight Club expecting a stylish testosterone swagger (I got that, along with buckets of homoeroticism) but was pleasantly shocked by its rip-roaring anarchism. We're talking anarchy proper: an intellectual project of mayhem lodged against traditional notions of property and material possession executed with lots of fists, bombing, lye-burns, and blood.

Edward Norton co-stars with an outrageous Brad Pitt as the inventors of an underground boxing club whose riotous social implications implicate both the seductiveness of primal bloodletting and a deep-seated discontent with American consumer culture. A pounding breakbeat soundtrack by the Dust Brothers ups the adrenaline content. Norton plays a corporate drone beset by insomnia who frequents self-help groups for a nightly anonymous cry. Here he meets Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), a troubled young woman almost as bizarre as he is. His life doesn't change, however, until he sits next to loose-pistol soap salesman Tyler Durden (Pitt) on a plane flight.

Pitt's borderline neurosis safely steps around the 12 Monkeys persona into an altogether more disturbing amalgam of intelligence and mischievous, celebratory nihilism. He provides fine counterpart to Norton's staid but unraveling character who's flirting rather heavily with Tyler's lifestyle. Fight Club is based on a novel, and it shows—the mood remains constant while the narrative expands with a twisted grandeur that shakes Fight Club down to its jolting conclusion. Hollywood's getting weirder, and the results are hard-to-classify but eerily good.

See also: