Re-View: Se7en (USA, 1995)

1411689224552Directed by: David Fincher. Normally, I hate when people spell words with numerals in them. I find it to be a stupid postmodern affectation that’s meant to crudely get people’s attention by distorting the basic communication value of a word. When people refer to the dubstep guy Deadmau5, I deliberately read that as “Deadmau-five”. It seems to usually be the domain of trivial musicians—I seem to remember a five-piece boy band from the 90’s called 5ive. (S Club Se7en, anyone?) But I digress…

Full disclosure: I’ve already seen this, at least twice, but it’s been a few years, and the fact that it was too scary to watch habitually meant that I was hesitant to revisit it. And, you know, even when you know exactly what’s going to happen, it’s still fucking scary, and it’s still a great fucking movie. This definitely ranks up there as one of the best films in Brad Pitt’s resume, and Morgan Freeman’s resume, and Kevin Spacey’s resume, and none of those guys’ resumes are anything to sneeze at in the first place. I’m not sure how much intelligent analysis I have to offer this film. I think it’s a worthy addition to the canon of “modern classics”, a truly great film from the 1990’s, and one of those plot-driven, surprise-driven movies that’s still really suspenseful when you’ve seen it a few times. I know that for some people, knowing the ending ruins any rewatchability, especially with “plot-gimmick movies” like this, or like Fight Club, or Memento, or even Psycho, but that shit doesn’t bother me at all. If this movie weren’t so damn creepy, I’d rewatch it on a pretty regular basis. I usually hate the term “neo-noir” because to me it brings to mind those lame fucking Frank Miller movies, but this film single-handedly brings legitimacy to the term. I love the way that Fincher constructs an imaginary space that, even though it doesn’t name any city by name, gives us an absolutely terrifying, degraded, depressed cesspool of a vision of New York, but then in the last sequence in the countryside, brings us somewhere that looks closer to rural California than upstate New York (maybe this is just me?). The setting definitely takes place in a sort of heightened reality, a fantasy-nightmare vision of the modern American city, but like all good fantasy, it’s pinned down by a sense of incredible grit, and in this sense, this city has more in common with LA in Blade Runner than any other city on film that I can think of—maybe Dark City. And, for that matter, I like how this film presents an eloquent, intelligent response to the cynical movies of the 70’s and 80’s, that conservative trope that the whole world’s gone to hell, and all you need to do to prove the point is walk around Manhattan at night and talk to people and watch the variety of flawed humanity around you. The jaded cop Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman, is easily the most intelligent depiction of that jaded cop trope, so intelligent that it’s hard to even see the resemblance between him and Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson in Death Wish. But this film is so deliberate, there’s no fluff, there’s nothing wasted, nothing frivolous, and that’s what makes it a genuine modern masterpiece. Even the scene where they’re having dinner and they’re all laughing, though it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, it’s so important to the story, to the tone, to the characterization of the core characters. And, to make this ineloquent, disorganized excuse for a film analysis complete, I’ll finish by adding how awesome it is to see R. Lee Ermey on the screen again, and that Hollywood should have a quota of putting him in at least one substantial role every couple of years or so.

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4 responses to “Re-View: Se7en (USA, 1995)

  1. Pingback: Panic Room (USA, 2002) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Gone Girl (USA, 2014) | Offhand Reviews·

  3. Pingback: A Walk Among the Tombstones (USA, 2014) | Offhand Reviews·

  4. Pingback: Zodiac (USA, 2007) | Offhand Reviews·

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