Written by: Jim Uhls, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Jared Leto
My Advice: Don't miss it.
The narrator (Norton) of our story has a bit of a problem. He seems to be caught in a sleepless life-crippling malaise that threatens his spiritual well-being. In other words, he can't get no satisfaction. Out of the drab void that surrounds him steps Tyler Durden (Pitt), a very strange man who sells soap. After even stranger circumstances leave the two rooming together, Durden suggests that they, just for a lark, try pounding the shit out of each other. And they actually like it. It makes them feel alive. This thing they've started doing for kicks strikes a chord in other men, too, because by the time the narrator turns around they've got spectators, then more participants, and then Tyler starts to draw up the rules...
First of all, you have Chuck P. to thank for creating such a story that mucks with your head and definitely does not make for a formulaic Hollywood piece. Then we have to thank Uhls for pulling it off and adapting the thing. As of right now, this film is my pick for Best Adapted Screenplay, just because it's 95% the novel. But enough about the book, let's talk about the movie--it's harsh, visceral, unforgiving and your brain will probably feel like Jared Leto's character's face by the closing credits. It's a trip, with Fincher and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth building upon its madness with spliced frames, frenetic flashbacks, and cutaways scattered throughout. Characters break the fourth wall to explain things or crack jokes. And most of all, the fight sequences are over-the-top brutal with the sounds emphasized to underline each impact. Anyone who thinks that the film glorifies violence simply has missed the point altogether. A scene in particular where Norton reduces the aforementioned face of Leto to hamburger comes to mind specifically.
So let's talk about the actors for a second. Pitt is in full on 12 Monkeys mode, playing a role against his pretty boy stereotype and playing it damn well. Norton is perfect here just like always, playing the everyman sleepwalker with the same dead-on interp that he gives to every other role. Carter doesn't have the chance to do much more than be neurotic, but that's one thing she's definitely good at playing. And Meat Loaf...he was great in his role as Big Bob, but I can't describe for you in words how traumatic it is to see Meat Loaf with tits. I just...I mean...Jesus Christ, man, Meat Loaf with tits!
Now, for those of you who can't take the violence, stay away. But for everyone else, I would say this is a must see on the big screen with a great sound system to catch all the effects. Fincher has finally delivered a film that builds on his bleak, severe Seven, and this has definitely increased my respect for him. See this film with a friend so you can console one another afterwards.