26 July 2004

Review: Fight Club (4/5)

Ah, nothing like a two-hour-and-20-minute midnight movie. But, I have to admit that Fight Club holds up. Don't trust those people snoring (at Fight Club?!?) in the back row--the movie has very few flaws.

In fact my biggest complaint when it came out was with its passionate supporters and their oddly misdirected interpretation of Palahniuk's story. I've often heard the many biting quotes in the movie used as support of the fight club ethos: we're a generation of men raised by women ... self improvement is masturbation ... without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.

However, the absurd rebellion that culminated throughout the movie was not a doctrine to cure male society's ills: it was an absurd response to fringe aspects of male society. Palahniuk took the weak individuals from support groups (weak from illness or mental exhaustion) and held them up as ridiculous counterparts to short-lived "encounter" groups such as the Promise-keepers. What would be the opposite manifestation? What would be the extreme opposite? Fight Club, with its slack-jawed members, answered civilized male guilt in a way that makes Ted Nugent seem quaint. In fact, the subtlety of Fight Club becomes a satire of Ted Nugent's brand of back-to-nature-manliness. It's ultimate goal devolves into nihilism, where no amount of civilization can be trusted.

All of that chaos can be traced back to Edward Norton's psychotic break as he tries to find blame for his chaotic life. He's cured himself in the end, but the struggle has left its mark. This extreme movie becomes an argument against extremism.


-> Rotten Tomatoes

[ posted by sstrader on 26 July 2004 at 10:47:44 PM in Cinema ]