In recognition of our democratically-determined move from 8 PM to 7 PM, I decided we should have a seven-themed movie night. Because no excuse is a bad excuse when it comes to movie night.
It’s a sweet little story, narrated by a boy who tells the tale of how his mime artist parents met in prison. There’s not a lot to it, but it provided at least a little levity before our decidedly heavy feature presentation.
Which was, naturally enough, David Fincher‘s Se7en. And yes, it’s spelled with the number in the middle. Se7en doesn’t have any mimes, and outside of the the always-scintillating Gwyneth Paltrow, it doesn’t have much light to offer. Putting the plot aside, the entire movie is filmed in Gloom-O-Vision.
In fact, I (very briefly) considered writing this review from Paltrow’s point of view, but it would have quickly devolved into, “Hey, who turned out the lights?!?” and we just can’t have that. Anyway, Gwyneth is married to a very green police detective played by Brad Pitt.
Pitt is partnered with the world-weary Morgan Freeman, who is supposed to be retiring at the end of the week. One nice feature of Se7en is that Freeman doesn’t get killed off like every other about-to-retire cop in film history. Imagine if you watched a movie where the main character was adopted but never went off in search of her birth parents or even accidentally ran into them. It’s that kind of refreshing.
Seeing as Pitt and Freeman are on the murder beat, it’s tough not to come across some nasty stuff. For instance, here’s a guy who was forced (at gunpoint, from the bruise on his temple) to eat until his stomach burst and he died. That’s nasty enough.
But when their next case involves a lawyer killed in his office with the word “greed” written in his own blood, Freeman gets a notion that something may be up, and returns to the scene of the first crime to find the word “gluttony” written in grease behind the refrigerator. Yep, it’s a serial killer, using the Seven Deadly Sins. Of course, he’s also intentionally leaving little clues at the crime scenes, so perhaps he shouldn’t be surprised when Pitt and Freeman manage to track down “Sloth” before he’s quite dead.
“Sloth” had apparently been tied to a bed for a year. At some point he ate his own tongue out of hunger. And while he’s vegetative at this point, he does throw off a sudden movement and groan at one point, freaking out both the cops and the audience, who both believe he’s dead. Don’t worry. The doctors can’t save him.
Meanwhile, Pitt and Freeman study hard on anything that can help them with the seven deadly sins – Dante, Chaucer, Augustine, Milton…OK, well Pitt kind of cheats, reading the Cliff’s Notes. But their research (along with an illegal library sniffer bribed out of an FBI agent) leads them to the apartment door of their killer, who has taken the name John Doe. Doe (played by Kevin Spacey) sees them at his door when he’s coming home with groceries (a la Louis Tully, really), leading to a shootout and a foot chase. Doe gets away, but not before clocking Pitt real good over the head and then not killing him despite flaunting the opportunity. Apparently, he’s got something better in mind, and he calls his own apartment to tell them that’s he’s impressed with their research. And, oh yeah, he’s accelerating his schedule.
At this point, the movie really accelerates, and mercifully so, because “Lust” is perhaps the most gruesome of all the cases – where the above john is forced, gun in mouth, to put on a strap-on knife and…well…kill a prostitute. Fortunately, only a very small amount of the aftermath of this scene was shown.
“Lust” segues almost immediately into “Pride”, where John Doe performs an impromptu nose job on a model (as in, he cuts it off), then glues a phone to one hand and some sleeping pills to another. Her call. She apparently chose the pharmaceutical exit. But again, we don’t need to dwell on this, things are moving quick.
Pitt and Freeman barely have time to return to the station before a bloody John Doe (two victims short, no less) turns himself in. He’s kooky, he’s got some sort of prophet complex, and he insists on Pitt and Freeman (and nobody else) taking him out to the desert where he’ll reveal his next victim. You would think that this would be a bad idea, but you know, you’ve got to move the story forward and I guess his threat that he’ll never reveal the final victims is convincing enough that they go along with it. Followed by a helicopter, but that’s not important.
Doe leads them out to the desert while lecturing them on his psychotic philosophy. When they arrive at the designated spot (not much there outside of an abandoned trailer and a bunch of power lines) a delivery van drives up. He’s got a box for Brad Pitt. Freeman opens it, leading to the second-greatest scene in Brad Pitt’s movie career:
In case you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t tell you what’s in the box. But I will tell you that you can find it in the first picture I posted from this movie if you search carefully enough. Look for something attached to Gwyneth Paltrow’s neck.
Doe claims himself as “envy” (and there’s an unusual implication that Pitt, who doesn’t die, is “wrath”) while Freeman continually and inexplicably tries to cajole Pitt, claiming that if he shoots Doe, Doe wins. What? Fortunately, Pitt is having none of that junk and sextuple-taps Doe. Just to be sure. The end.
And, since I did say that the “Aww, what’s in the boooooooox?” scene is the second-best scene in Brad Pitt’s career, I feel obligated to show the first-best. Here you go, courtesy of True Romance: