Tuesday, 28 April 2015
April Blindspot: Se7en
Directed by David Fincher
(Since this movie came out in 1995, I will be discusing spoilers since this did come out 20 years ago)
David Fincher is a director I'm coming to love very much. My first foray into his work was the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a movie that I unashamedly love. The Social Network I wasn't crazy about initially, but also grew to admire (though maybe not love). The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was dark, brooding, and fantastic. And Gone Girl is just spot-on perfection, to me. However, this was all of Fincher I'd seen. And I knew that I really needed to dive into 90's Fincher to get the real gems. Deciding between Fight Club, Zodiac and Se7en was difficult as I had heard equally good things about all of them. But ended on Se7en, though I'm not certain for what reason.
Se7en is the story of Detective Mills and Detective Somerset, and a serial killer whose murders are based on the 7 Deadly Sins. Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is in his last week before retirement, while Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) has just transferred to this city and is starting his first week on the job. When murders arise that are both disturbing and connected, Mills and Somerset find themselves hunting for who did them.
I love murder mysteries, and I love crime stories. And while this is more crime than murder mystery (it's never really a whodunnit), it's still a movie that I found incredible. While this was only Fincher's 2nd ever film (and the first that wasn't based on previous films), it still felt extremely Fincher-esque, and had so many touches of modern Fincher movies.
Se7en is probably the darkest of Fincher filmes (without having seen Zodiac and Fight Club but I feel like this darkness is hard to beat). It's grim, and depressing and everything is dirty and broken. The city is constantly raining and everything seems to be covered in grime. But the movie is slower-paced than the typical murder mystery. It's wordy and it gives the audiences real characters, who are actually fleshed out. And as usual, Fincher trusts his audience. Fincher's trust in an audience is probably the #1 thing I love about his movies. He doesn't feel the need to give characters obvious unrealistic lines to serve to explain things to the audience and doesn't film obvious shots of details or clues. And while he does this moreso in the years to come (particularly with Gone Girl), there is definitely still a strong trust here.
His trust is shown the most in that amazing, taut, intense ending. I mean, I'm going to throw it out there and say this is probably the one of the best endings ever (if not the best) to a crime/mystery film. Spot on, perfection. I mean, I knew it was coming. I knew Gwyneth Paltrow's head would end up in a box, and that Brad Pitt would be asking "what's in the box???". I knew it was coming, and it was still such an intense and perfect scene. But the twist that John Doe, our sadistic and deranged killer (played to perfection by Kevin Spacey) commits the sin of Envy, with the intention that, because John Doe had just killed his wife and delivered her severed head to Detective Mills, that Mills would then commit the act of Rage, by killing Doe. And you know what, Mills does it, he kills John Doe. And as Det. Somerset warns Mills, if he shoots Doe, "he wins". It's refreshing to see a film where the bad guy "wins". This is also what was refreshing about Gone Girl, and I know it made it frustrating for many. But the entire sequence, the driving to the desert, the discussions in the car between Mills, Somerset and John Doe, the package arriving via a delivery boy in the middle of the desert, and Brad Pitt screaming "what's in the box??" after John Doe says he had "taken her head", and Mills' final decision. It was tense, it was taut and it was perfectly and expertly edited. Is there really a better or more depressing ending to a film?
Overall, Se7en was a film I very much enjoyed. It didn't feel overly 90's (in a good way!) and all the characters felt fleshed out and realistic. Kevin Spacey as John Doe doesn't enter the film until about the last half hour, but his presence is so commanding while he is on screen. The murders he either committed or had others commit were gruesome and extremely disturbing (I found the lust murder particularly distributing), but it never felt gruesome just for the sake of it. It all felt in line with who Fincher and the screenwriter had established this, initially mysterious, killer to be. Fincher was also brilliant enough to not include Kevin Spacey's name in the opening credits, and, as I had read, not even to include him during promotion. Had I not know it was Kevin Spacey, it would've made a brilliant surprise!
Se7en is definitely not a film for everyone. It moves a little slower than most genre films, but packs way more of an unsettling punch at the very end. The opening credits are stunning, and the film is just perfectly edited. It was deserving of it's Editing Oscar nomination, but it's a little disappointing that it wasn't up for more. Se7en is dark and extraordinary twisted but it's such a great film. Definitely a must-see for any Fincher fan, or just any film fan!
Posted by Heather Martin