“Wanted”, “Fight Club”…cinema of the depressed

Like the Narrator in "Fight Club", corporate shenanigans weigh down on our hero.

Like the Narrator in "Fight Club", corporate shenanigans weigh down on our hero.

Jim Emerson has a post on his blog SCANNERS (here) that talks about how and why the film Fight Club made such a strong impression on him. As the narrator deals with depression so does Emerson. It’s a strongly written piece and one that sums up my feelings not only for Fight Club, but also for my feelings concerning Wanted.

As in most super hero films if you can’t connect with the hero’s dilemma as a normal person you won’t feel as drawn to him trying to break free from that prison he finds himself in. For Wesley, McAvoy’s character, it’s his depression. His inability to feel anything. To feel something – even anger, is a freeing thing. Anger can in fact be a great thing to feel. It’s both Fight Club‘s and Wanted”s notion to take that initial breaking free point and carry it through to an extreme. And they realize that those extremes probably aren’t the healthiest way to deal with things.

These depressive states, this loss of identity that both of them suffer from, makes them vulnerable to becoming swept away by a mob mentality. It’s not an unbelievable thing. Pretty much all of German fell under the sway of Hitler when the country was seeking some kind of identity after WWI. Anybody who joins a cult suffers from an identity crisis. They aren’t strong enough with who they are as a person. It happens every day and sometimes to devastatingly violent and tragic outcomes.

That’s why to me a film like Wanted is so releasing and enjoyable. I suffer from depressive states in which I feel little or nothing. Some times for extended periods of time. The exaggerated and stylized use of violence becomes a metaphor. If the violence were real or the assassination attempts staged in a realistic fashion, then it would be about the killing, which it’s not. It’s about defining who you are in a world that sucks you in and herds you together, and then beats you down to feel nothing.  For Wesley it was first his job and his girl and his best friend, then it became the thing that was supposed to save him as it does for the Narrator in Fight Club.

Take a look at Emerson’s post and the very first response to his post is mine.

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