Se7en – Genre Confused

Se7en – Genre Confused

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  1. David Fincher makes dark films.  Quite dark.  His 1995 film, Se7en might be the only film with a number in he middle of a word in the title, but it is like Fincher’s other films in that is is super dark.  It also is like his other films in that it has an intricate and somewhat disturbing opening credit sequence.  Also, like his other films, it is well-made.  It was only nominated for one Oscar (Best Film Editing) but Fincher has been nominated for Best Directing at the Academy Awards two times (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008 and The Social Network in 2010).  The man knows how to tell a story.

    What is it about?

    Se7en teams rookie detective, Mills (Brad Pitt), with veteran detective, Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and puts them on a case involving a string of grisly murders.  Mills is excited to be on such a high profile case early in his career, but Somerset is not.  He knows this case is going to be stressful, dangerous, and long; but he is supposed to retire in about a week.

    The murders in this case follow the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth, pride, envy, greed).  Each kill is done in such a way to metaphorically represent a particular one of the seven.  The killer also leaves some sort of sign that tells which one that kill represents.  It could be written in blood, or even spelled out in letters that have been cut out of newpapers and force-fed to the victim… whatever it takes.

    As the victims pile up, the killer starts to mess with Mills and Somerset more and more via phone calls, messages, etc.  After 5 kills, he turns himself in, offering to take them to the body of his latest victim.  Once they get out to the middle of nowhere, the killer reveals the final part of his plan which leads to two more victims that embody the final two deadly sins in a stunning twist that will leave you speechless.

    Is it any good?

    Se7en offers a strong, engaging story.  It is written by Andrew Kevin Walker who, before writing Se7en,had only written 2 other features (Brainscan in 1994 and Hideaway in 1995).  The story is well paced and allows the audience to work on solving the case alongside the detectives.  It also is filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The emotional story is well done, too.  Having the dichotomy of an eager rookie and a burnt out veteran working together keeps every scene interesting as they interact.

    The acting is very good, too.  Gweneth Paltrow (Mills’ wife), Morgan Freeman (Somerset), and Kevin Spacey (John Doe a.k.a. the killer) all have strong resumes and it shows here.  The surprise, though, is that Brad Pitt isn’t very convincing as Mills.  It could be because his character isn’t as strong as the others, his dialogue isn’t well written, or some other reason; but it’s surprising because he is so good in so many other films including other David Fincher films (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Fight Club).

    Other than Brad Pitt’s questionable acting as Mills, the only other troubling thing about this film is the mood/genre.  It seems like this film walks a thin line between drama and thriller without knowing what to focus on.  Then, it also jumps into horror on occasion.  This wouldn’t be an issue if Se7en didn’t feel uneven at times because it can’t seem to decide what genre it is.  Mixing genres is okay as long as it is seamless enough that you don’t notice.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B-

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