Se7en is formal and visual magnificence. The precision in the execution more than makes up for whatever creativity the common and often repeated plotline looks like on paper. The results are one of the best films of 1995 and the creation of a detective film and serial killer film archetypes.
A ridiculously low and laughable 65 on mc
With Gordon Willis inactive at the time and beyond (he actually had one credit post 1995 and it was with Pitt again in the devil’s own) I’d like to officially call Fincher the master of darkness and clearly this is a perfect marriage of content and style—the film is so dark, sadistic, nihilistic and medieval
DP Darius Khondji has had a great career—starting with Jeanet (delicatessen and city of lost children so there is a aliens connection as both Fincher and Jeanet did an aliens sequel), midnight in paris and now works with James Gray (the immigrant and lost city of z)
We have the serial killer here from silence of the lambs but we also have the two odd-couple detectives (with one retiring in a week like lethal weapon and the younger one a bit of an emotional loose cannon)
Ebert changed his grade from a 3.5 to a 4 star over the years and it’s in the “great movies”– ebert “one of the darkest and most merciless films ever made in the Hollywood mainstream”. He also says, on Kevin Spacey, and he’s dead on- “The film essentially depends on him, and would go astray if the actor faltered. He doesn’t.”
Perpetual rain like film noir, like Blade Runner
Fincher young- 33
Clearly an expressionist- influenced by Murnau and the early germans, faust and nosferatu
Paltrow is the sole bright spark in the film—and it’s formally fitting that she’s snuffed out—devastating. And she is dazzling in her few scenes
The sets by Arthur Max (his first film doing this)—gladiator and Ridley Scott almost exclusively after this—never as good as this (Prometheus is close)
Sean Axmaker from TCM Online “The real star of Se7en, however, is the gloom and doom of the setting: an unidentified blight of a modern city.
The opening credits are a short-film experimental masterpiece that clearly delivers upon Fincher’s background in music videos (George Michael “freedom”, Madonna “Vogue”)
Milton’s Seven deadly sins are, of course, brought forward in a perfect formal 7 day structure
It’s interesting, and fun, to see Morgan Freeman playing a bastard here—hard- closer to the Clint Eastwood anti-hero here going against his built-in charm and likeability
Pitt is wonderful. His character is so thoroughly built (all 4 leads are actually). He wears wrinkled white shirts with basketball ties. He gets home and wrestles the dogs, drinks Pabst, reads cliff notes, marries his high school sweetheart and swears all the time but apologizes to her for it—Freeman read in the library, is the intellectually equivalent of John Doe and drinks wine, not beer
It’s a dystopia—Gotham
Howard Shore’s score is very underrated— he can do darkness—he worked with Cronenberg throughout his career
Everyone in this dystopia is jaded, and in the first house the lights don’t work—welcome to Fincher
I have some small problems—largely it’s that the clues are absolutely impossible to figure out—it pushes disbelief too far (wood flooring from fridge, eyes circled on wife of lawyer)- it’s just too clever
Devastating that in retrospect Pitt, not heeding Freeman’s advice, costs his wife and child’s life by hitting the photographer
Fincher uses the actual lights (green lights in library, All the president’s men-like newsroom (one of his favorites) lighting in the news room not just to light what we see but as part of the décor—it’s like Soderbergh (before Soderbergh was doing this) and of course all the president’s men is Gordon Willis who was the original master of darkness for dp’s
I adore the long unsexy realistic chase scene after Pitt and Freeman arrive at Spacey’s apartment—jumping across the cars in the rain— so Blade Runner (another fincher favorite)
This movie has been made a dozen time before and since (not on this level at all) but often the Killer is a dud (some have accused true detective of this)—but not here. A character built up and talked about the entire movie must live up to the hype as Ebert says and Spacey and this film crush it. Other examples of this clearly working ar apocalypse now and the third man
Like Fincher, Freeman and Spacey’s characters are incredibly disciplined
There’s a shot and sequence where Freeman and Pitt go into a seedy nightclub— they go down the stairs and there is the red glow from the beautiful lighting. This is goodfellas—this is hell
The décor is the best element of the film—lighting in the newsroom, library green
Spacey is revelatory and “Joe Doe” should be right next to Hannibal Lector and Harry Lime in cinema history
The editing splice effect of Paltrow’s face, in the finale, is genius and is used again of course in fight club
[…] Se7en – Fincher […]
How would you rank the 4 lead performances?
1. Kevin Spacey
2. Brad Pitt
3. Morgan Freeman
4. Gwyneth Paltrow
They’re all great performances of course.
@James Trapp- Great question. All four are so damn good– Paltrow and Spacey in more limited time of course. Let me think on this one.
1 – Pitt
2 – Freeman
3 – Spacey
4 – Paltrow
For me it’s,
@Drake – yeah it is difficult when dealing with such significant gaps in terms of screen time. And frankly it’s tough picking between Freeman and Pitt because their performances complement each other so well, very different dynamic than a buddy cop film.
Spacey is phenomenal though, the car ride to the final location is amazing, Spacey’s John Doe is handcuffed in the back seat of a cop car but he’s the one with all the power at the time. The movie doesn’t work without Spacey nailing those scenes. I like the comparison to Harry Lime.