Movie Review #694
Cecchi Gori Pictures
New Line Cinema
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by David Fincher. Produced by Phyllis Carlyle and Arnold Kopelson. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker.
Rated R by the MPAA — disturbing content, strong language. Runs 2 hours, 7 minutes. Wide release in the USA on September 22, 1995.
Starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Daniel Zacapa, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Also starring R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, Richard Portnow, Leland Orser, and Richard Schiff. Featuring a credited cameo appearance by Andy Walker as a dead man at 1st crime scene; and uncredited cameo appearances by Charles S. Dutton and Grigori.
“What sick ridiculous puppets we are
and what gross little stage we dance on
What fun we have dancing and f__king
Not a care in the world
Not knowing that we are nothing
We are not what was intended.”
There’s no dressing up a movie like “Se7en”, a thriller that–just when you least expect it–is all dressed up and ready to go. “Se7en” may very well be the best neo-noir of the 1990s, and if it’s not, it’s most definitely number two or three. It may be the best neo-noir since Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown”, and if it’s not, it’s sure in the top ten. The only thing really to hold it down from such honor is its one flaw: the title sequence is über-cool, thanks to director David Fincher, Almighty Fontmaster of the Cinema, but it’s also briefly promising of a TV pilot.
But forget two or three, forget ten, and for what little it’s worth, forget one. “Se7en” is seven. If I can clarify that, it is the number that is seven. You can’t get a more accurate title than “Se7en” for a movie like this, and I’m not trying to joke around here. The number seven is what makes this movie interesting. It’s literally at the center of the story.
About that story. Two detectives, Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt), are on their most difficult case yet. Pitt exemplifies a rookie perfectly, while Freeman complements him in a role of the pure opposite. His dialogue is pensive, serious, and often philosophical, unlike the fun-loving, carefree Pitt. “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world is a fine place and worth [the] fighting for,'” he tells us eventually. “I agree with the second part.”
But these two don’t have time or patience to worry about getting along. They’ve got a real psychopath to deal with. A real clever psychopath. This man was raised Southern Baptist. As an adult, he still practices, but he’s taken things a bit far. So far that he’s begun to think about humanity like Travis Bickle. For him, it’s all about killing the undesirables in the world. He’ll play his mind games with these two detectives (and anybody else who’s looking at the case), but in the end, he really doesn’t care whether he’s caught.
The pivotal point of our interest here is who he finds undesirable. Even before Somerset and Mills begin finding clues in library books (The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, and more), they’ve found that their guy kills those who are specifically and obviously subject to their own lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, or pride. In other words, he’s obsessed with the Christian belief of the seven deadly sins.
Just that much is enough to say that “Se7en” is an interesting tale. That you’d find in most thrillers, but at times, horror movies fall short of the grim atmosphere here. So you’ll find this not only thought-provoking, but chill-provoking. The movie seems to get tenser as it moves on, and although most of the violence seems to happen offscreen, get ready for gruesome imagery early on. Some of the real chills seem to come from Darius Khondji’s panicky cinematography and the eerie music with which Howard Shore complements it. But I’ve got to be honest, the music works even better when it’s not this memorable leitmotif. That library scene with Bach’s “Suite No. 3 in D Major”. And, of course, David Fincher’s payoff in this movie guarantees Nine Inch Nails’s “Closer”, as if the suspenseful Hollywood score meant nothing.
There’s more, but I’d best not spoil “what’s in the box.” There’s so much suspense offered in “Se7en”, it’s almost difficult to spoil.
POSTSCRIPT: Writer Andrew Kevin Walker hasn’t written anything half decent, except for this, which is outstandingly written. It’s been announced that he’s returning to Fincher for The Girl who Played with Fire. Thoughts?
SE7EN IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD, VHS, AND LASERDISC.
Hit the jump for an announcement regarding the 2nd Annual Cinemaniac Awards:
Matthew McConaughey has won 2014’s Cinemaniac Award for Best Actor of the Year, for his performances in Dallas Buyers Club and Mud. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be honest, I agree with all the buzz this guy’s received. It seems he’s come a long way from the throwaway romances he used to do. But considering his last romance was in 2012, he’s done a transformation into these 2013 movies overnight. How he does it, I don’t know, but let’s not decipher. Let’s be amazed. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement for Best Lead Actress.