Sunday, January 18, 2009
Getting Dirty in The Game
As Ed Howard and I reviewed the films of David Fincher for our first installment of The Conversations, a theme surfaced: Fincher likes characters who get dirty. Why? Because if you’re staying clean, you’re not engaging in life. For examples, think of Se7en, where the ever-determined Mills (Brad Pitt) gets rained on, beaten and cut in his hunt for a serial killer, or think of Fight Club, where Jack (Edward Norton) trades in his IKEA-ideal apartment for a condemned ramshackle abode, and then trades punches with friends for a good time.
The best example, however, can be found in The Game. Michael Douglas’ Nicholas Van Orton begins the story with wealth, extravagance and cleanliness (he even has a shower in his office), but he isn’t living. He’s haunted by the memory of his father’s suicide, and he’s lonely. In terms of material possessions, he lacks nothing. In terms of emotional possessions, he’s flat broke. Over the course of the film, Nicholas learns to live again by breaking out of his hermetically sealed existence.
As an addendum to my discussion with Ed, I wanted to provide highlights of Nicholas’ long, slow crawl through the muck – his reengagement with the world. The images below highlight that transformation, but they also do something else: demonstrate Fincher’s knack for embedding deeper meaning and social commentary into the margins of otherwise streamlined, crowd-pleasing thrillers.
Before the game ...
The game begins ...
Is that a Mona Lisa smile there at the end?