Career Peak – The point in an actor, actress or director’s career when they have given their best performance, reaching a point they will probably never match again!
The idea is to examine a person’s film or television career and decide when their career peak was; the moment that they gave their best performance or produced their best work. This could be with their first movie; it could also be yet to come. It’s designed to spark friendly debate too so if you don’t agree (or do, which would also be good) then feel free to check them out and add your opinion.
David Fincher has been responsible for some iconic movies. He has a distinctive style that suits some movies better than others but when a story and his level to dark detail or interesting characters clicks together, it can make some of Hollywood’s best films. He has brought some of the best characters to the screen, as well as scenes, quotes or moments which have seeped into popular culture. Has he still got his best film ahead of him though?
David Fincher – Career Peak: Fight Club
Fight Club is pretty much David Fincher’s masterpiece. It has the iconic characters that he is best at creating, his style of the dark mixed with the bizarre and of course “That Twist” which means with every new viewing of the movie, you get something else. Fight Club is much more intelligent than it first seems, offering clues to the final reveal, as well as dropping well hidden Easter Eggs for the seasoned, well-informed viewer to spot.
Fight Club came at a time when David Fincher was at his most creatively free. He had dealt with an interfering studio when he made Alien 3, the story of which has become infamous. You can see his reaction to this with three films which spurn the studio mentality. The Game was an intelligent if underwhelming taut thriller, while Seven rewrote the rules for the serial killer genre. Fight Club was the culmination of this studio backlash, a film which was grimy, dark and unapologetic with it’s mature themes and tone. It is Fincher’s best.
The reason it has remained that way is because Fincher seemed to return to the studio institution he had walked away from. The films that follow Fight Club are good, some are excellent, but most don’t have the Fincher edge that made his early career so iconic.
Panic Room has some effective shots and cool moments but hardly inspired the imagination, Zodiac told another serial killer story but lacked Seven’s bite, while The Curious Case of Benjamin Button felt as “unFincher” as you could get, despite starring Fight Club alumni Brad Pitt.
You could even argue that The Social Network was reliant more on the performance of Jessie Eisenberg and the excellent script by Aaron Sorkin, than any sort of imaginative or stylistic directing by Fincher. Fincher handled the story well but it didn’t feel as inspired as his early work.
The last film to really feel like a Fincher movie was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This had the dark tone, the iconic characters and at least one incredible performance (Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander). You couldn’t get away from the fact it was a remake though, with Fincher adding his stylistic touch but hardly anything else that we hadn’t already seen in the original.
Overall, Fincher can deliver an excellent movie, his most recent Gone Girl, is testament to that, but it doesn’t feel like he is delivering the movie-punch he did with Seven and most effectively with his Career Peak: Fight Club. Fincher needs to shun the studios like he did after his Alien sequel and try something darker and more edgy, a movie environment he seems most comfortable within.