The century turns; from soap making to underground ultraviolence to anarchist terrorism Tyler Durden makes his mark. Capitalism restarts as three bombs count down to take away all recorded debt. Those who have caused this to happen repeat the same mantra. His name is Robert Paulson.
This is what makes David Fincher’s Fight Club the go-to cult classic of the radical. Each scene still presents absurdness seriously. Edward Norton’s character (a nameless insomniac) is somehow acting rationally by catfishing support groups, befriending a man who sells soap made of lipoosuction fat and beating himself senseless in front of his boss. It all fits together, and even now it works excellently.
The writing by Chuck Palahniuk still holds this gritty disturbing realism to it today. Time has not minimised the reaction to watching Ed Norton “destroy something beautiful” or Marla Singer’s infamous line about grade school. It feels like real world melodrama of work, home, entertainment and personal wellbeing was put to a blender and drank down by a generation of punk youths. It never stops quotable lines that remark some semi-political, semi-philosophical rant which berates its watchers as much as its protagonist. A twist which brings back sense. An ending full of ambiguity and milliseconds of pornography. Age is so sparse on this movie I could consider it a 2010’s Cannes contender.
The other praise is the production. The Fincher touch of closed spaces and uncomfortable concentrations on the mundane, roll the idea that life is boring. Why are you here? Why are you relying on consumers? These messages are as relatable to us now. When then, ultra-consumerism was Ikea montages and empty Starbucks cups, now it has only grown to watching the same scenes on Netflix. The message of the controlled life we see is more relatable than ever. The resolutions are just as appealing to watch. Ed Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter are now respected actors, and we can go back to their early days- the turn from 1999 to 2000 where it was all meant the blow apart- and still enjoy dramatic mastery of young talents.
And now we have the age where every line is commercialised. Everyone knows what it is and that we aren’t meant to talk about it. Tyler Durden branded soap sells for $7.50 on Ebay. It’s proud to see so much of that attention to a film that deserves the title masterwork; but has it affected the message? Twenty years on, is Operation Mayhem its own brand? All I have to say for it is his name is still Robert Paulson.