The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
Title: Se7en (1995)
Director: David Fincher
Runtime: 127 minutes
Both of the main characters are so expertly and deeply written that almost anyone could pull them off, but Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman do it better than just about anyone else would. I love both of these characters for different reasons, and there are tons of small touches – from the way they wear their ties, to what and how they drink – that make them some of the more realistic people you will find in cinema. Gwyneth Paltrow, though a supporting role, makes the most of her screen time as the lovable wife. Then there is Kevin Spacey. This was my first real introduction to this actor, and I was impressed then, but now I find him even more perfect as John Doe.
Story & Script
Se7en starts as a simple rookie vs. veteran whodunit, but that’s just a facade until the real story kicks in. Someone is murdering citizens of New York, and he is using the seven deadly sins as his blueprint. The team of Somerset (Freeman, the veteran who is retiring at the end of the week) and Mills (Pitt, the man essentially taking his position) have to figure out who the killer is before more victims are found. We’ve seen this a million times before, but what makes Se7en different is the depth at which we get to see into these character’s lives. We live through trying to discover who the killer is just as they do. We are never a step ahead or behind them, and that makes for an excellent thriller.
I had to watch Se7en again to remind me why I love David Fincher so much after the disappointment that was Gone Girl. Fincher’s attention to detail here is what makes this such a remarkable film. Without even using views of the city much, he builds this dark and gritty New York City that no one would want to be in. He keeps the killer’s identity a secret until just the right time. Once we get out of the city, he finds long, wide, sprawling, bright shots to counter that dark and sick city. The list goes on. The construction of the final 30 minutes of the film – after the reveal – is as perfect as any film I’ve seen. Filming the killer through the grates of the cop car, the filming locations, the dialogue; it’s as perfect as it can get.
There is so much to like about Se7en that it can be overwhelming to try and dissect, but one simple thing that stands out to me are the opening credits. Fincher finds a way to make something as mundane as the opening credit sequence a work of art, taking a glimpse through the killer’s mind right at the start of the film. I can’t recall a better opening credit sequence off the top of my head. Something else that stood out to me more this time around is how tame the film is in terms of showing the gore. Much of the brutality is talked about rather than shown on screen, and this seems like a rare instance where that is the stronger choice.
I’ve watched Se7en multiple times in the past, always with new viewers, just as I did tonight (my wife hadn’t seen it), and I will be happy to do so again in the future.
Se7en is a work of art, and most will call it Fincher’s masterpiece. The final 30 minutes of the film are simply perfect. If for some reason you’ve missed out on this, stop by my place, and let’s remedy that. I’d love to get to see this with you for the first time.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.
Great review of a great film! As you can imagine this was a highly analysed film in my film studies class back in college. Strangely foreshadowed by the John Doe character to Mills after Mills calls him a fucking movie of the week. With an essay just about the opening title sequence being used as a study guide! And I loved watching this film with an ex partner who had never seen it or had the ending spoiled.