• Gareth Crook

Se7en (1995)

I don’t think I’ve seen this more than twice. Once when it was released and once when I bought the DVD, back when I bought DVDs. It’s been over 20 years. Se7en was always great, right from the get go. Watching it now, it instantly feels like a classic. Now time will do that, but only if it’s truly worthy. Freeman is at the top of his game. Pitt rides his coattails admirably. Even Paltrow can’t undo it or the oh so 90s industrial grunge titles with NIN & Bowie. Spacey too absolutely nails the deranged creep role... not that that’s surprising now I guess. Fincher wastes no time in getting to it. Somerset (Freeman) and Mills (Pitt) are homicide cops in the rainiest town in America. Somerset is the soon to retire meticulous expert. Mills, the young buck full of energy and enthusiasm. This film works, as much for the string of crimes they’re about to get embroiled in as for their relationship with one another. Details are fun, gripping, but it’s people, characters that make stories and films tick. Don’t get me wrong though. Details are important here. We’re invited to the investigation alongside S&M and the joy in Se7en, if that’s the right word, is the slow methodical release of those details, to the cops and to us. I suppose what makes Se7en so widely loved though is it’s easy. Somerset holds our hand through it all. He’s the brain cracking the leads, reading the books on the seven deadly sins. Despite his weariness, this invigorates him and us. There’s an understood structure here. We know there’ll be seven murders. We know we won’t be done until that happens. Even with a flurry of hope right before Sloth, our detective buddies are casting doubt. They’ve studied this guy, they know they’re being lead, as we are, step by step, murder by murder. Now I don’t usually like gore and make no mistake Se7en has it in spades. It’s one grotesque scene after another. It works because of the strength of the narrative, but damn I struggle with Sloth. Probably because he’s still alive. I remember watching that DVD commentary about the casting of Michael Reid MacKay as the body for Sloth, chosen in part because he was skinny. When it came to filming though, he turned up having lost even more weight feeling it would be more convincing. That somehow makes it feel even more terrifying. Sloth is of course our first glimpse of the killer. A little tease that alludes the first time viewer. Although not for long, Se7en doesn’t really make you work that hard. It’s the perfect creepy crime thriller, but I think I’d forgotten how brutal it is. Sloth, Lust, all I can say is thank goodness for Somerset and Mills’ theological conversations, they’re the respite from this dark, cold and wet, dirty dangerous world. The pacing is perfect, the tone rides the slick production with the gritty visuals well. Pitt is a little cartoony, but 25 years on it still packs a punch... and it’s got a killer finale.

7 (kidding) 10/10


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