Fleabag’s review published on Letterboxd:
I strongly remember the first time I watched Fight Club. It was playing on TV and i sat down and watched it. I remember being so confused because it was such a strange film. In fact, I didn't like Fight Club my initial watch. Years later and I decided I should watch it for a 2nd time. I still didn't like it. Apart of me began to believe maybe I just didn't get Fight Club. So I watched it again last night, for the 3rd and maybe final time. But somehow someway it all clicked. I get Fight Club.
Fight Club is an extremely bizarre film there's no denying this obvious fact. And I'm sure everything there is to say has been already said about this strange film so I will just add my own conclusion of the film. For me though I'd say Fight Club is in fact a flawed masterpiece. The cinematography and visual style of this film is hypnotizing. There are images of a digitally distorted figure that appear throughout the film sporadically. There's persistent slow motion shots. There's a green hue throughout the film distorting the viewers sight. The score of the film on the other hand adds this level of oddity and allure to the film. These two mechanisms work hand in hand in creating quite the cinematic experience.
The performances from its ensemble cast are nothing short of amazing. Helena Bonham Carter is stellar as the seductive and care-free Marla Singer. Brad Pitt gives one of the strangest yet maniacal performances. In ways he plays the antagonist of the entire film. Edward Norton knocks it out of the park here. He offers so much emotion and personality to the film, in essence he is the center of Fight Club, this is his movie. For a film so dependent on its cast, these actors do a spectacular job and no one else could've played these roles. Back to the characters - this is a film that is completely character driven. The characters are basically the DNA of Fight Club. I've seen the common consensus being that the film is a philosophical view on the emasculation of the common man - but thats actually not what I took out of the film. I can see where this assessment comes from but I see a more central theme here. There's clearly themes of order, existentialism, masculinity, helplessness, chaos, violence, aggression, sociology, fassicism, consumerism, and femininity. But I think even more importantly; Fight Club is a psychological character study. It's the psychology of this film that matters the most. Sure one can argue masculinity is the central theme of the film, and I wouldn't disagree but it isn't the be all end all of what I'd assess from this film. One must keep in mind this masculine portrayal is so omnipresent because our protagonist is in fact a male. Above that is the fact that he is basically schizophrenic. The entire film we follow this character as he falls into his own descent with madness. The other themes of the film feel more like devices, and the psychological aspect being the central theme of the entire film. It's even present in Marla Singer who constantly craves suicide and the support groups who are constantly looking for a way to handle their own mental turmoil. Even our unnamed protagonist is constantly wishing he'd just die. There's clearly significant allusions to modern mental illness throughout the film.
Which brings me to the Tyler Durden reveal. This is by far still to this day one of the most shocking turn of events in cinematic history. I still get completely shocked each time and this time around I began to notice little hints that Tyler wasn't real. I also had an issue with this reveal, the way Tyler explained his manifestation honestly ruined the moment. It was almost as if Fincher thought "the audience isn't smart enough to get it so lets explain it", it deviated from the shock factor. But nonetheless still a mind blowing moment. Tyler Durden, the real Tyler, created a character who he could live through vicariously in order to cope with his insignificant life. Tyler Durden, the hallucination, being a projection of what is often referred to as the ideal self. This is extremely interesting to think about when in psychological studies it has been found that men see the muscular masculine figure as the ideal self. Body image and many other societal factors aren't really talked about in the male population. Tyler Durden is what every man wants to be in essence, that is physically. It's the mental baggage that comes along with being Tyler Durden that becomes hard to swallow. What I think is so interesting is that a man who is basically nothing, becomes a symbol for something. Something of a father figure or almost like god. One could make the argument that the real Tyler is jesus and the hallucination is god. When he finally realizes all of his creations are destructive, he seeks to set things right. Ultimately in the end resorting to suicide. I could go on and on about details I noticed and my own thoughts, this is a thought provoking film.
Loaded with philosophy and psychology, visual grandeur, terrific fashion design, sonic oddity, and spectacular performamces; Fight Club is a flawed masterpiece. The more positive aspects outweigh that the film has bad CGI, some funky dialogue, odd pacing in areas, and useless scenes here and there. This is far from Fincher's best film, but it is perhaps his most ambitious, stylish, and thought provoking film yet. I never understood what people saw in this or what was the reason for its cult status amongst this wave of men known as dudebros. But sometimes its good to give film's another chance, there's things maybe you just didn't notice on first watch or even second watch. Some films beg to be watched many times and to be analyzed and this is just one of them. Years later and now I get it, now I understand the love for Fight Club. Fight Club is gritty, its raw, its chaotic, its brutal, but most of all; its human.