Release Date: 1995
Director: David Fincher
Why I picked this: I’m a fan of Fincher
Again, it was difficult to watch this movie knowing some key elements that arise ahead of time. Still, this is a very well directed film with a great atmosphere. There is quite a lot of disturbing content, violent and gruesome content that some might not be able to handle. But, and forgive me if I come across as morbid, I enjoyed it. The gruesomeness was done in such a smart and clever way that I didn’t care too much. The movie focuses on two detectives following a serial killer who bases his murders on the seven deadly sins; as mentioned, these are very smartly thought out and executed murders. The two detectives are David Mills, played by Brad Pitt, who has recently transferred to this unnamed city. He partners up with old-fashioned detective William Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman, who is due to retire soon. They are both effective in their roles, and have good on-screen chemistry together. The whole young/old cop dynamic is something that is overdone in fiction, with Pitt’s character being more impatient and quick to act, while Freeman’s character is more wise and by the books. Though cliched, the performances of the two main leads actually freshen up this dynamic. There aren’t any moments where the acting from these two will stand out, save for maybe the ending. In fact, I felt that the two lead characters took a backseat to the visuals and the themes. There were aspects of the plot that I simply didn’t care about, such as one subplot involving Mills’ wife, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, confiding in Somerset on a secret. However, an introduction of another character will definitely stand out. As previously stated, this movie has a great atmosphere; the city is alive, but there is this dirtiness and scumminess that covers it. Scenes in which it is raining heavily enhance this atmosphere, and overall, the movie has a dark and cynical tone. It certainly has a cynical tone as well, and a cynical message regarding society. The movie depicts the world as not only corrupt, but imperfect. There is a great conversation between Mills and Somerset about the inherent qualities and flaws of man, an they both come to a fundamental disagreement. The movie uses low angles, shadows, and smooth camera movement, with the exception of some scenes of action. The movie’s color palette ranges from very warm colors to darker colors to convey bleakness. The score is loud and pretty standard, but surprisingly enhances a lot of the suspense of the movie, particularly at the end. Overall, this feels like a modern day noir film; dark, cynical, and sharing many of the visual and audio qualities of classic noir films.
The characters aren’t very strong, with a special exception, but what is strong are the well crafted visuals and dark atmosphere, with an effective use of graphic and shocking content.