Se7en: Trying too hard

[Screenshot]Se7en thinks it’s something it ain’t. Based on the popular reception I recall it getting at the time of its release, everyone else thought so too. See, Seven (I can’t bring myself to do the cutesy internumber-thing except in passwords) is a gimmick inside a genre piece, and the result can’t help but be camp. I’m pretty sure this film started with the “hey, wouldn’t this be a neat premise” idea and fleshing it out involved trying to legitimize this highly implausible conceit. Which means there are all sorts of ill-conceived attempts at Meaningfulness: references to Dante, Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Maugham, Chaucer, long monologues about the wickedness of the modern world, and so forth. And it’s a shame, because the thematically interesting parts get shunted aside. There’s an intriguing but never-fully-realized intimation about the psychically unhealthy nature of cities (which works harmoniously with the claustrophobic, dark, and dingy setting); some waffling on the nature of insanity as a function not of individuals but of collectives, and some other things which actually work well and don’t come smack up against the camp barrier of the central plot element. But instead we have Kevin Spacey looking all intense (which he does quite well: Kevin Spacey’s very good at making his words sound like far more than they are. Not sure why, but he really has an effective something) and talking about how his finale will be legendary. But the finale’s actually a string of clichés, and pretty weak. Feh.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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