Seven (1995) *


Most sources refer to this film as Se7en purely because that's the way that the film's title happens to be presented in the opening titles: an impossible standard to apply across the board, and therefore indicative only of selective juvenile veneration, exactly akin to referring to Peking as 'Beijing'.
We don't call Germany 'Deutschland' and we don't call Boeing Boeing 'Boeing (747) Boeing (747)', to cite at random one of countless films whose actual onscreen title isn't really what they're called. 'Se7en' may make a vaguely attractive visual formulation of the title (though in my view it doesn't because the figure 7 in no way resembles a 'v', this being the reasoning behind such substitutions in the past), but the idea that it actually is the film's title is ridiculous.
It doesn't mean anything, and it would also have to be pronounced 'Sesevenen', something I've never heard anybody say.

Anyway, on to the film, which is very stylish and effective claptrap, pandering to the worst pretensions of the audience and combining sleazy scares with naff psychologising straight from the David O. Selznick-Sigmund Freud forties synthesis.
It's the story of two cops - one young and idealistic (Brad Pitt), the other wearied by experience and nearing retirement (Morgan Freeman) - attempting to stop a murderer (Kevin Spacey) from completing a series of slayings based on the seven deadly sins. It is extremely well made, involving and, if one is receptive to such things, frightening.
It is also extremely hypocritical, pretending to endorse the Freeman character's disgust with a world that is capable of producing such horrors and yet still happy to trade in them for easy sensation, as if a culture for which movies wallowing in sadism and despair are a reliable source of entertainment to millions is somehow unconnected with the corruption of its subject. A film sincerely committed to the points to which this one pays plainly insincere lip service would be a masterpiece. As it stands, this is a superbly made, thoroughly gripping, disgusting, pointless spectacle.
Gwyneth Paltrow is lovely in an early supporting role; she ends up as a severed head in a box.