The other day, it was dark, rainy and shitty outside, which always makes me think of one movie - Se7en. I first saw it five or six years ago, yet it made such an indelible impression on me that I never forget it when the weather turns. I love the performances in Silence of the Lambs, but Se7en takes that same sort of movie and adds a distinctive style that makes it even better.
I'm not really into gore, so I'm actually glad when the movie shows up on TNT, and I don't even own the DVD version. I'm sure that makes me lamer to say, but so be it! The movie is so dark and stylish that it doesn't even need the gore to be stunning and effective. (Note: It's at this point that I spoil a bunch of what happens in the movie, and if you do want to see it someday, I recommend you stop reading.)
Basically, Se7en works because it is so unrelenting in the darkness that the characters face, specifically Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Tracy Mills (Gwyneth Paltrow). For the most part, Det. Mills (Brad Pitt) really is the embodiment of Wrath, bouncing around from scene to scene and reacting emotionally. However, you don't realize it until John Doe (Kevin Spacey) reveals it at the end of the movie. Somerset is the true hero of the movie, as you get the feeling that he's fighting against the oppressive nature of not only the city itself, but of his new partner as well. And Paltrow shines, in a literal way, as scenes involving her offer the only sort of brightness in the whole movie.
Part of the plot's darkness stems from how Se7en flaunts traditional movie conventions. Think of how little Somerset and Mills actually accomplish - They manage to track John Doe via his library card, but otherwise, the first victims are already dead and Mills becomes Wrath by executing John Doe. The movie's villain is John Doe, but instead of having him caught at the end, he turns himself into the police two-thirds into the movie, again denying the audience any satisfaction. There is a brief chase through a downpour, but otherwise, there is no action in the movie.
Se7en is just anxiety built upon anxiety, and it's so different to me from the conventional movie experience that it's great. I'm not much for completely experimental independent film - I thought Pi was meh - but anything shot in a different style (everything by Tarantino, Sin City, Scott Pilgrim, Memento) always catches my eye and attention. Se7en definitely qualifies in this respect.