#27: Se7en (1995)

The only excuse for the large gap between these posts is plain old fear. I’ve been ill in bed with nothing else really to do, surely a perfect time to get on with the blog? But then Se7en was there, staring me in the face, and I was just too terrified; it was a bit too much for my put-upon nerves and weakened constitution. See, the thing is, I’ve seen this film before, so I knew exactly what was in store for me: horrible deaths in horrible circumstances. 
It’s all so well-plotted by screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker that it’s actually fairly hard to write about this film in any detail without giving away massive twists, or at least truly shocking moments that those of you yet to see this should experience for yourselves. To stay vague then, Morgan Freeman is Detective William Somerset, a week from retirement, who is putting newly transferred Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) through his paces before he leaves the department. They’re soon embroiled in the grizzly murder cases of two men, connected by the theme of the seven deadly sins: one man, a lawyer, has his blood used to write “Greed” on his plush office carpet, whilst across town a hideously obese man has been forced to eat until he literally burst, with the word “Gluttony” written in the grease behind his fridge. Even this has given away some genius clue-finding and storytelling, so you can see how hard my job is right now. Although, probably not as hard as director David Fincher’s job was, laying out this narrative while maintaining a sense of style, for above all things, Se7en is a well-shot and well-constructed film.

The murders continue, remaining graphic and significantly uncomfortable to observe, while Somerset and Mills learn to get along with each other, and begin to realise just what they’re dealing with. The near-constant rain and the constant background noise of the city overwhelm, keeping the focus on the decay of the urban space, which is the central point of interest for the film. In one scene, Somerset and Mills sit in a bar discussing the nature of crime and iniquity. Mills asserts that it’s the insane that create this mess, but Somerset has long ago come to the conclusion that all this suffering and cruelty is simply daily life for humans. Earlier, talking to his captain, Somerset explains he is retiring because he doesn’t understand ‘this place’. So, without being able to talk about the particulars here, Se7en looks at the sinners of the world, and asks whether calling them insane is just too easy a solution. What if there is something horribly and irredeemably wrong in humanity? What if we can’t use insanity as an excuse anymore - because we’re all guilty? While, yes, it is mainly the terrible deaths that give Se7en it’s horror/thriller status, its dark despair is just as unsettling.

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