Se7en (1995) (R)

There is no city in David Fincher's movie "Se7en". The two main characters, homicide detectives, wander aimlessly around in a dreary and raining city with no name. Some moments seem to be implying that the movie is representing New York—others make it look like the midwest.
The movie begins as Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is leaving the force. He's finally retiring and it would be nice to say that people were happy for them—happy is a luxurious emotion that no one in "Se7en" can afford. From moment one, the stifling brooding city overtakes the puts you into a trance.
A man names Mills (Brad Pitt) is moving to this new city with his wife. He fought to be assigned to this filthy, stinking, mess of a population. Somerset cannot understand why, perhaps it's because that Mills thinks that he can make a difference...we never really know for certain.
Seven days: the amount of time that Mills has to spend with Somerset before his retirement. It's on their first day together that they uncover a gruesome crime.
A man is fed to death. He is forced to eat at gunpoint until his stomach swells up, then he is kicked and his stomach ruptures. This is the first of many grisly murders. As soon as the man is found, Somerset wants to back out. The lack of motive and meticulous style with which the killer apparently dispatched his first victim has him thinking that this will be the initial look into a serial killer. He wants to be reassigned and he wants Mills to not work the case—both requests are denied.
The second victim is found, a lawyer is discovered in his office—bled to death. He was forced to mutilate himself with a butcher knife. On the carpet there is written in blood the word greed. Somerset goes back to the first victim's house and finds the word gluttony written behind the refrigerator in grease.
His stomach drops.
This killer is murdering people according to the seven deadly sins. Those being wrath, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, envy, and sloth.
There is no backing out of this one now. Somerset and Mills have to stay one step behind a man (or woman) who has no qualms. This killer is extraordinarily smart. There are never any traces of him being present during the fingerprints, no hair, no DNA.
"Se7en" is a film that's reflective of the time period it was made in. This film couldn't exist today with our instant communication and constant Big Brother capabilities of watching people.
You have to wait with the detectives...wait and sweat.
I had seen "Se7en" once before I watched it today and the impact it had on me was probably the strongest reaction to a film I've had. I was disgusted, repulsed, and horrified. I swore off David Fincher as a mad-man and claimed that I hated him.
To put this in perspective, the closest I've come to throwing up while watching a movie.
But then I watched a lot of David Fincher's work without realizing that it was his. Finally, after seeing everything he had done, I decided to give "Se7en" a second chance.
I do think that "Se7en" is a clinching and jarring masterpiece; but I don't think I could ever see it again.
It's gritty beyond gritty and psychological beyond psychological.
Yet the film is saying something about humanity...what that is? I have my own hypotheses.
When it boils down to that infamous ending, I realize that "Se7en" doesn't take place in a known city because it could be purgatory. All the references to Dante could just be the smoke-screen to say that Somerset and Mills are trapped in a hell-like area. Am I right? It's doubtful.
What is true is that "Se7en" is brutal, beautiful, and haunting. It's a wonderful movie, but I can't recommend it to anyone.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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