Fight Club Review
Edward Norton plays a man who is struggling with identity issues -- so much so he is addicted to self-help and support groups, even when he is not suffering the topic issues in question. The first part of the movie covers an interpersonal conflict he has with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), who is a slimy, bitchy, strung-out, vacuous woman with a ton of nasty attitude and habits also trying to wring an identity out of a washed-up life. Both are fakers -- outsiders addicted to the groups -- and don't want to be found out. He can't stand her, so he arranges it so that they don't have to keep bumping into eachother.
He takes a business trip and bumps into Tyler Durdam (Brad Pitt), a suave elite soap salesman who is more interesting than anyone else he's ever met. After the flight, he witnesses his apartment being destroyed, and his already-frail personality withers away with his belongings. Bereft of what to do with himself, he seeks out Tyler, which is the beginning of him embarking on an odd journey into creating a society-bashing counter-culture simply called "Fight Club". They also become roommates, and Tyler shacks up with Marla, which creates some interpersonal conflict, and some strange rules for the housemates.
And then the movie gets REALLY odd... ;)
Note: There are scenes of people consensually beating the piss out of each other in the movie, which may cause problems for viewers. The film is purposefully dirty -- but not generally disgusting -- in many ways. Implied sexual consensual violence. There is one death in the movie. Most of the filming is artsy rather than explicit, but you are left feeling like you need to take a shower -- except that you're so riveted to your seat that you can't stop watching the events unfold.
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This movie is a sharp and spiraling decent into a simultaneous postmodern hell and heaven.
The Fight Club that they form delights in a very Zen concept -- that in the moment of striking out, or being struck, all barriers between your ego and the world are removed, revealing your true self. On a more mundane level, it's men who are doing what their hormones say they ought to do. The best members of the Fight Club morph into a more elite group of rebels called "Project Mayhem", which delights in defacing and destroying icons of modern capitalistic culture -- challenging the norms where people worship wealth and belongings rather than true human values.
The best spoiler for the movie is the identity of Edward Norton's character. At no point in the movie is he given a name (he gives some aliases at the group meetings, but note that his name is never given...), and the closing credits call him "Narrator".
The events heighten as Narrator senses that Tyler and Project Mayhem have a big and nasty, rather dangerous plot. Tyler is always two steps ahead of Narrator -- easily able to predict his actions, able to shut him out of knowing things, able to keep him under wraps. Narrator gets more and more agitated, worrying over the plans of Project Mayhem and Tyler, and busts out into his own investigation of what the plot is. He finds plane ticket stubs and flies to various locations, finds the local Fight Club chapters, finds out there are also local Project Mayhems, and the plans aren't only in his hometown. There's nothing he can do to stop it -- Tyler has warned everyone ahead of time about the visit, about being questioned, etc. Narrator figures out, finally, in a huge rush, that everyone sees him as Tyler Durdam --they share a face, a voice, their body.
Narrator/Tyler are a multiple. Every episode where Norton and Pitt are simultaneously filmed is a dissociative episode, where they are swapping control over their shared body. It unfolds slowly at first, but if you re-watch the entire film, the hints are there throughout -- the insomnia, phazing in and out of reality, losing time, identity struggles, etc. The fun thing is that while Narrator had the job and owned the furniture, Tyler was living a much better, more liberated life, and helped yank Narrator out of his downward spiral into challenging the status quo and actually LIVING by blowing up the Narrator's apartment and ruining the Narrator's vacuous daytime nightmare of the daily bump-and-grind.