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Swimming with sharks

David Fincher has always been obsessed with vicious struggles for power. Now he has turned to American politics, with his adaptation of the classic BBC series House of Cards

By Francine Prose   March 2013

Kevin Spacey as the Machiavellian Frank Underwood

The director David Fincher is drawn to plots based on a simple premise—life is a game—combined with an equally straightforward Darwinian directive—kill or be killed. The heroes of his hugely popular films—most famously, Fight Club (1999), The Social Network (2010) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)—figure out fairly early on that they must outmanoeuvre their opponents if they hope to prevail.

Survival, Fincher reminds us, requires shedding our scruples and kicking aside the roadblocks conscience puts in our path. In…

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