Se7en ★★★★

When reviewing this previously, I may have done so in a short-sighted manner. It goes back to my first viewing of it where I was compelled yet somehow disgusted too. I was maybe a bit too idealistic to accept such a bleak narrative. The part of me which embraced it then has grown exponentially against the defensively optimistic part of myself that existed then.

More recently I have viewed this more critically, in part to blame it for spawning so many bad (or merely acceptable in comparison) movies and ultimately television. The flavor of which CBS procedural dramas like CSI and Criminal Minds took owe so much to this in the worst way possible. But then again I can't blame David Fincher for Jerry Bruckheimer looking at it and saying to himself that he can make this sexy and even more palatable for the masses.

Right now it stands more on it's own and is in it's own way timeless, for the way it was also a marker for it's time. The macabre crossover between gruesome crime and pop culture and it's effects are felt in the dialogue with it's references to Manson (explored more literally in the 2nd season of Fincher's excellent Mindhunter series) and Hinckley, entwined with allusions to old TV cop shows and Paradise Lost.

I've also come around a bit on Brad Pitt's performance, initially feeling it to be too on the nose in Fincher's criticism of cop movie cliches and just using his character to personify that. I still think if the film concentrated more on Morgan Freeman's character it would have been to the film's benefit, but as is the two had an affecting chemistry which adds fuel to the slow burn that this is.

What has always remained steadfast for me is the aesthetic created throughout. Darius Khondji lit this as perfectly as anyone could in cooperation with the overall tone and character of the story. It's never bright, even in the daylight. Howard Shore's music is like a beast groaning and gnawing beneath the city streets and behind the walls. Arthur Max's production design and Ren Klyce's approach to the sound are equally as visceral and tangibly unique to the senses. It makes Kevin Spacey's definitive portrait of evil the cherry on top.

As for Fincher himself, I still believe he made better than this, but admittedly not as much with the same overall impact. This was undoubtedly a game-changer for him, it's studio and a few of it's stars as well. For better or worse, elements seeped into the culture for the next decade or so, but never so obviously in his own work. He's continued to find ways to subvert audience expectations while having them completely within his grasp, which puts him in company among a precious few other American directors.

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