Fight Club At 20: Marla Is Still A Tragic Heroine
Well, you’ve guessed it. David Fincher’s satire movie Fight Club turned 20 this week. The movie adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s book of the same name had a special 20th birthday on October 15 and I thought that it’s a good time to look back on one of the best characters, not just in that particular movie, but in the entire movie history.
The one and only Marla Singer. Played superbly by Helena Bonham Carter, Marla is a true enigma to the bigger part of the audience. She appears out of nowhere and she’s essentially guilty of messing up with the Narrator’s brain.
Or should I say, with his insomnia. Both her and him attend support meetings but for very different reasons. He goes to the meetings for a good crying session (which helps him sleep) while she goes there for…. So many reasons. Coffee, snacks, companionship and killing loneliness. She’s extremely lonely person but unlike the Narrator, she doesn’t have the means of an everyday comfy life to keep her occupied. A good apartment, a steady job, or even healthcare. Hey, she even steals clothes from other people’s washing machines and then sells them for money. She’s confused and for the most part bored of life, and at the same time she has an enormous desire to feel, despite her telling us otherwise. And even with all the Tyler Durden’s cronies from the Project mayhem, she’s the only one that cares about the Narrator.
And despite the movie being slightly sexists (with all of the women bashing and showing the masculinity though aggression), Marla remains one amazing character right until the end. Did you notice how more and more shitty stuff start happening to the Narrator whenever she leaves the picture for a while?
Yes, she’s attention seeking and destructive person, and a bit xrazy but compared to the rest of the macho, anti-consumerism, anti-establishment and anti-capitalism slaves that are just glorified domestic terrorists, it’s Marla that remains true to herself. She tries to get closer to the Narrator and she hopes that one day will have the same feelings that she has for him. She’s basically a wacky puppy that wants to be loved no matter what. NOT to belong anywhere (club, a meeting or even in a serious relationship), but just to find a person that could have a connection with even for a moment.
Marla is the true hero of Fight Club. With a movie that’s so frowned upon rebellion towards the establishment, and rejection of the enslavement that is capitalistic consumerism, there’s very little originality in most of the male characters. They’re all copy of a copy of a copy.
But Marla is different. She’s got balls (unlike most of the men) , and for the most part she knows herself better than anybody else. She’s the unsung hero of Fight Club. The truly tragic heroine that made the movie all that better, and 20 years later still manages to do that.