Rewatched Se7en (1995) last night. I’ve been a fan of the film since its release when I saw it in the theaters. It’s a dark and disturbing tale about a rookie cop joining a retiring cop (nothing new there) on a case in which a serial killer forces his victims to exemplify one of the seven deadly sins as a part of their demise.
I was worried the film might fall from my favor upon a second viewing, as I have grown quite a bit in my film taste since first seeing it. However, it holds up nicely. And here’s why:
- Brad Pitt 1 – Despite being reduced to a sex symbol, Brad’s a skilled actor. Most people think his best work is in Legends of the Fall or 12 Monkeys where he plays a tortured soul or a lunatic. But I prefer his work here, where he plays the hardest role of all: a human. [Simpsons Sidenote: When Troy McClure asks what part he’s been cast in for the musical version of Planet of the Apes, his agent tells him “the human.” And Troy replies, “It’s the part I was born to play!”] In truth, playing a normal, everyday guy with the complexities, weaknesses and strengths that are a part of the standard issue soul, is far harder than playing a psycho or retarded individual (although the Academy seems to think otherwise). And Brad does it beautifully here. His character's rookie bravado weakly masks his insecurities. In the very short shots of him after the climactic moment (avoiding spoilers here), his face and demeanor are haunting. Exquisite inner turmoil going on there.
- David Fincher – This director, can probably take part credit for the modern murder thriller. His gritty, dark thrillers (The Game, Fight Club in addition to this one) set the tone for films like Usual Suspects, Memento, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, and several lesser films. He’s a master of lighting with some beautifully visceral moments. Specifically when Mills has a gun pointed at his head in the rain, Fincher captures the light in the water beautifully.
- Morgan Freeman’s character – A complex, non-clichéd character is a refreshing change for the actor who typically has to play the old, world-wise (almost omnipotent) black mentor. Sommerset (Freeman’s character) is conflicted and grows from the beginning of the film to the end.
- Kevin Spacey is perfect for this role.
- Gwenyth Paltrow’s young wife character is angelic and subtly played.
It’s not the greatest film ever, but certainly worth a watch, especially if you haven’t seen it. Warning: Strong language and images which imply horrific acts of violence.
1Some, my wife included, have lost a good bit of respect for Brad after the recent Anniston/Jolie debacle, but I have never cared about the personal lives of the artists whose work I appreciate. I pay little attention to stories of who’s gay, divorced, or biting the heads off gerbils for two reasons: a. I have no idea of the real story of their lives, especially if I’m relying on the media for my information b. I don’t think it matters. Even the most morally reprobate individual can portray truth in their work. Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan, tyrant king who God gave a dream that portrayed the ultimate dominance of God’s kingdom over all other kingdoms. If God can use Nebby, he can use Brad Pitt, Roman Polanski, or even... Woody Allen! ;)