Se7en (1995) – David Fincher

The final big title in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book in the Thriller section is The Silence of the Lambs. It should not be a surprise that I have covered that one before, as well as most of the recommendations, except for this one, David Fincher’s noir-esque thriller, Se7en.

Starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leland Orser, Richard Roundtree, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Schiff and Kevin Spacey, this one is a fantastic picture, one that when I first saw it so many years ago, reminded me of the visual style and look of Blade Runner.

In a perpetually raining city (except the last quarter, as the truth begins to out, the sun, and the sky get clearer and brighter), detectives Mills (Pitt) and Somerset (Freeman) just drew a helluva case. It’s the last one for Somerset, as he is planning to retire, and Mills’ first as he requested an assignment to the city’s homicide desk.

Their killer is using the Seven Deadly Sins as his guide, and the crime scenes are graphic and horrifying.

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As Somerset and Mills begin to work together we see that they are very different cops. Mills is impulsive, occasionally reckless, naive and relies on instincts. Somerset is methodical, educated, and sees the real threat of their suspect.

Both men are driven, but their actions may catch the attention of the killer and as the climax draws in, they may become part of the killer’s plan.

Of course, the film is now marred by the actions of some of the men involved in its production, but in separating art from artist, it remains a fantastic piece of cinema. Fincher’s visual style is on full display here, and there’s an edgy, almost, neo-realism to the crime scenes and the wet streets, even as the sets tumble from the seedy to the art deco.

The film is a gritty, brutal watch, with each crime seeming to be somehow worse than the last, but if thought is given to each and every crime scene, you realise how truly horrific each one is. If you just sit there and think about what was done to those characters, it’s chilling.

While Freeman turns in a strong performance, I found some of Pitt’s uneven. That’s not to say it isn’t a good role for him, he just seems a little shakey in some of the scenes. Perhaps that was just me. By the time the troubling climax comes around, he’s on point, and makes the ending all the more shocking.

That puts to bed yet another chapter of the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book, only a few more pages to go… I wonder what’s next.

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