Directed by David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow
Opened: September 22, 1995 | Rated: R
Director David Fincher doesn't want his audience to be comfortable for a moment while watching "Seven." Shaky camera shots, dark sets and a disturbing script that takes its characters to the extremes of emotion all contribute to the film creating a unsettled feeling that stays with you for a couple hours after the credits roll.
The film begins with the overused premise of a young cop (Brad Pitt) being teamed for a murder investigation with an veteran on the verge of retirement (Morgan Freeman). The two quickly develop a tense disrespect for each other, Pitt being the cocky smartass type (who is nonetheless optimistic about the future) and Freeman the hardened, pessimist New Yorker who has seen it all.
Their investigation of a bizarre murder, in which an obese man is forced to eat himself to death, turns into a hunt for a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins -- gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and wrath -- as his calling card. The second victim, a rich lawyer, is the not-so-subtle tip off -- "greed" is written in blood on his carpet.
What gives "Seven" it's unsettling impact is the way the film connects deeply with each character, even the victims who are never seen alive. Freeman, Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow ("Flesh and Bone") as Pitt's wife are all in top form here and the audience comes to know them intimately -- whatever affects them, affects the viewer equally. This is especially true of Pitt, whose character struggles to maintain his optimism in the face of the horrors he sees.
The killer is played, by a well-known actor who is not named in the opening credits (the producers want to keep his identity a surprize), with a calm but explosive demeanor conspicuously reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs."
Although very little of the violence in "Seven" is on screen, it is by design considerably more disturbing than a horror movie or more mild thrillers like "Misery."
The tension is so well played that even though the unsatisfying conclusion becomes obvious a good 15 minutes before the climax, it doesn't diminish at all the churning feeling in the pit of you stomach as you leave the theater. Because of the way it assaults the emotions, seeing "Seven" should not be taken lightly. It's a difficult movie to forget.
This review appeared in the Daily Republic, Fairfield, CA.
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