In 1999, Edward Norton took on the role of the unnamed Narrator for “Fight Club” a film based on Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel of the same name. Norton stars as a depressed office worker who has crippling insomnia and a disenchantment with his cookie-cutter white-collar life. In an effort at community, the Narrator attends support groups for diseases he doesn’t have, finding relief while crying in the arms of strangers, until Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), another imposter, ruins his outlet with her knowing presence. When he meets an eccentric soap-maker named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), the Narrator’s safe life is shaken up. After the two men fight in a bar parking lot (finding the experience both invigorating and cathartic), they start an underground fight club that takes on a life of its own.
The film’s reception was contentious, with some critics loving it, and others, like Roger Ebert, only giving it only two stars. While many thought the film glorified violence, others found it disturbing on other levels. What these haters were missing is that the film resonated with younger audiences who had, like our Narrator, done all the things they were told to do with their youth — only to find their apartment filled with objects but life devoid of meaning.
As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Norton points to the distribution studio for the film’s poor performance at the box-office, “I think there was a reluctance on the part of some of the people who were actually marketing it, to embrace the idea that it was funny, and honestly I think they felt indicted by it,” Norton said about the film’s obvious take-down of consumerism and toxic masculinity. Nevertheless, “Fight Club” still resonates with audiences, getting a 9.0 on Metacritic.