CST Throwback Thursday – Film of the Week

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by Claudio Zelaya,

A look back on the mighty and suspenseful “SE7EN.”

After a thousand years of lying dormant, I have awakened and am back with another Fincher classic! I’m about to date myself by saying that “Se7en” actually came out the year I was born and it wasn’t until last year that I finally watched the film. It’s astonishing that I was able to avoid spoilers for older films like this one and Fight Club all this time, but it was wonderful to take this journey to figure out the context of the famous phrase, “WHAT’S IN THE BOOOOOOX?!” This movie stars Brad Pitt as David Mills, Morgan Freeman when he cared as Detective Somerset, Gwyneth Paltrow as Tracey Mills and Kevin Spacey as John Doe. It’s also directed by my favorite director, the glorious David Fincher.

Now I don’t want to start drooling all over the film too quickly. There are some pacing issues in the first half. The air of mystery serves the plot in the long term, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for getting bored. It’s not because nothing interesting is happening, but because we’re still figuring out why we should even care for David Mills. The dynamic between him and Freeman’s Somerset is a bit awkward at first due to the detectives unwillingness to work with such a hot head, but that doesn’t take long to build on as the movie progresses. Bar some awkward line delivery from their chief, the rest of the cast is able to hold their own against one another.

I saw “The Usual Suspects” before this movie so I was already well aware of what Spacey is capable of, but this took the maniacal half of his character from “The Usual Suspects” and turned the dial to the max. He’s never been this vicious in a film like this one to my knowledge. The naming of his character, John Doe, adds to the dark shroud around him; you really don’t know what he’s about until it’s too late. Pitt and Freeman attempt to keep up at the acting level of their on screen foe, and while they’re beaten at every turn, their chemistry together sells the intensity. Pitt’s character is given his likability, despite being a dope at times, by his lovely wife Tracey. I’m usually not the biggest fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, but her performance here is endearing and her and Pitt enjoy wonderful scenes together, which makes the ending ever so heart wrenching.

Now let’s discuss that famous scene. What’s in the box?! Well, it ain’t candy. Through several Youtube videos studying this scene, you can begin to understand that genius in the blocking. John Doe’s shots are always close and steady to present dominance. Every time Freeman or Pitt are on screen, the camera has more movement; he has them running around like rats. One of the best practices in cinema is emitting fear without actually showing anything. We never see what’s in the box, but from the reactions from Somerset and Mills along with John Doe’s monologue we can only assume the worse.

Se7en is one of the most suspenseful and agonizing films to watch because of the mastery displayed by everyone involved. I love Brad Pitt and I said it in my review of “Fight Club”, we will never see this kind of performance from him again. Everyone thought the Joker would win in “The Dark Knight” as he played his games and lured Gotham into turning on their White Knight, but Se7en had done this a decade earlier. What do you guys think of this entry from Fincher’s filmography and what movie do you want us to feature in our next Throwback Thursday?

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