Se7en (1995) Is Still Perfect.

Rating: A

Summary: Two detectives race to find a serial killer who is choosing victims based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

There may or may not be a streak of David Fincher movies happening, because I wanted to get around to watching Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but got distracted and picked up Se7en because well… it’s hard not to watch to watch Se7en when it shows up. And then it got me thinking about more of Fincher’s work and how much I like Fight Club and wondering if King’s Speech deserved to win over The Social Network and I never did get around to watching Zodiac and- wait, he did Panic Room!? I love Fincher. I love his ambiance. I love his collaborations with Trent Reznor. I love how he uses visual and audio elements to make an audience feel something rather than just casually observing dialogue. He’s up there with the directors I’ll watch without question, sandwiched right in between Christopher Nolan and Edgar Wright, maybe sipping tea and comparing color palettes with Wes Anderson and Vince Gilligan.

Se7en is one of Fincher’s earlier works and even though literally all of his work is way above average, it remains one of his best. I didn’t intend for this to be a 25 year anniversary kind of thing, but I’ll just go with it. It’s hard to think of another work that succeeds in committing to its theme in pretty much every storytelling device that’s presented. Everything in this movie has a purpose- each word, each background element, each speck of dust is there to inform us about the killer, add to the tension, or to present an additional argument about the concept of sin. This is a work that’s meant to be studied and engages its audiences in its mystery- calling it a slow burn doesn’t do it justice. We’re not being told about what the killer is like- we’re learning along with the detectives who this person is, through visual context and some audio sprinkling. It’s so successful that by the middle of the movie, we don’t even need to see a full crime scene to understand the killer’s brutality or to imagine what he did.

I don’t quite know how to describe this, but Se7en is just so… full. And I don’t just mean that the actors make the characters feel like real people, the dialogue is natural, and that Unnamed City feels like a real place. “Full” meaning it’s a very satisfying movie- despite the gore, I always feel very pleased about what I just saw. Its ending brings together each preceding scene and every single moment so that nothing is out of place and there is no meaningless scene. Other movies that attempt to do this can come across as overdone or convoluted- but Se7en‘s conclusion is just so fitting and so perfect. It should serve as a template for any movie aiming for suspense and tension- and how to present those things without depending on the use of dialogue.

I’m pretty pumped about this Fincher dive. Probably going to move onto Zodiac next, but I’m happy to take any recommendations of Fincher’s works or similar ones.

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