#22: Se7en (1995)

When and how did I watch this?

April 24th, 2017, on Amazon.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Vague knowledge of the film going into it.  Stars Pitt and Freeman. “What’s in the box??”.

What do I know about it now?

The “Seven Deadly Sins” are an extrabiblical interpretation of depravity perpetuated by the church and folklore, yet an interesting concept and the central theme in Seven. We follow a retiring officer Somerset on his last case (Freeman) and an upstart emotional newbie Mills (Pitt) investigating the case of a serial killer — yes, again — whose victims are set up to die in some creative and horrible manners. These murders display each of the seven deadly sins, which is not mysterious to Somerset, but gradually gnaws at Mills, who at first pins the killer as a standard psychopath but grows to hate him on a personal level, leading to a dramatic conclusion and catharsis. The film is set in an upside down city with rampant crime and poverty — and, like Gotham City, you wonder why people don’t just leave — where our protagonists walk crumbling streets, enter corrupt establishments and decrepit structures seeking clues, which are scrawled about and planned ahead of time for the officers to discover. One of the victims is even subjected to a year of torture to make a point. In the latter third of the film, our suspect stumbles into the picture — hey, it’s Kevin Spacey again! — who lets on that the last two murders are all set up for the officers to see for themselves. Masterful acting is on display once again from all three main characters, and the coloring and setting are painted on screen with utmost care. The murders themselves (with the exception of the second to last) are all unnerving, but done in a strangely tasteful manner.  It is not important for the director to shock  you, but for you to be impressed, even fascinated, yet still bothered by the death.  If it “helps” at all, the victims are some scummy folks, which doesn’t really lessen the impact on the characters or the viewer enough to make the killer appear innocent. But he is brilliant, and so is this film.

What are some themes in the film?

Welp: sloth, greed, envy, lust, pride, gluttony, wrath. Family is also an undercurrent.

Did this affect me personally?

Darkness and deterioration inhabit this film, and the murders themselves are simultaneously sickening and brilliant. It certainly evokes a range of emotions.

Why is this ranked #22?

Brad Pitt is an obvious screen favorite.  Spacey’s performance certainly doesn’t hurt, even in its brevity. It’s a crime drama. It features bizarre murders.  That’s all it takes, really.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She did, and actually found the film captivating.

Would I watch it again?

I don’t think so.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Like Silence of the Lambs, an objective take on this film is wise.  The violence and overall mood of the film might be too much for many viewers — certainly ones that have little tolerance for stylized gore.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

In some ways, Seven feels like the darkhorse cousin of The Silence of the Lambs, and these two films are conveniently back to back, though not in the correct order. Seven is an excellent film, and it does everything it’s supposed to do, but in the end feels like an inverted sermon instead of a screenplay. Preaching is the killer’s intent, and it becomes the director’s intent as well, which ends up sort of breaking the fourth wall, or pointing a big finger through the screen and over the pulpit — take your pick. It’s a clever film, and yes, a great film, but it’s carried heavily by a quality ensemble cast (Paltrow included) and a unique premise.  We end up waiting to see how the next murder turns out, and not caring about the process.

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