Se7en: Film Review

Se7en- Film Review

One of the most critically underrated films I can think of takes the form of Se7en, starring the incredible duo of Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Spacey; directed by the one and only Dave Fincher. The film follows a seasoned detective and his rookie partner as they hunt a killer who murders according to the seven original sins. The film, which realistically falls into a number of genres, was released in 1995 to decent but unspectacular critic appreciation, a response I feel deeply undersells the film. It is neither as horrifying as it has been reputed for, nor does its reputation consider the thought-provoking thematic portrayals in the film. Impeccably written, impeccably performed, and impeccably directed as only Dave Fincher might, Se7en is a slow burner of a thriller, if such a thing could ever exist.

            Freeman and Pitt, two legendary actors, shine in this film, in among the grittiest performances I’ve seen from either of them. Authentic and rooted, their characters develop psychologically deeper than should be allowed in a two-hour film. Freeman, who plays the veteran seen-it-all detective who is thrown into a depth even he has not seen before, is exceptional in the mellowed arc of his character. The same can be said for Pitt, whose jumped up not-so-rookie cements his unique character right from the start, never losing his initial mold but softening as his background is illuminated further in the film. Their character’s relationship is drawn out so well, and they might have been partners forever by the end of it. Gwenyth Paltrow is excellent in the role of Pitt’s wife. Until closer to the end of the movie, it wasn’t actually clear to me what her role was. She had this connection with Freeman’s character that had an odd tinge to it; it was never lustful but it was a deeper emotional connection than an average spousal work friend. Without giving away the end, however, her character sells enough for the impact it was intended for, giving a good sense of Pitt’s character’s home life and base, which is essential by the end. Kevin Spacey, whose name is unutterable in polite conversation these days, was nonetheless exceptional in the role of John Doe. Without a demanding physique and with or without gun in hand, Spacey gives off an eerie calmness that ends up being paramount.

            I think it is this eerie calmness that opens the door to the film’s wonderful screenplay. The film is rooted in a thoroughly interesting concept, questioning the redundancy of stopping evil. Such a concept demands an interesting script, and I really think it was delivered. It would not have been possible for the script to have been half as effective with a lesser group of actors, but Freeman, Pitt, and Spacey ooze maturity and existentialism; enough to ask questions that illicit genuine pause. In the sense the film is definitely a psychological experience. I don’t recommend it the queasy, but it doesn’t live up to the hype in terms of it’s gruesomeness (although it is pretty damn gruesome at times), and I do think the gruesomeness that does exist is necessary to raise the stakes, and raise them it does.

            Finally, one must mention Dave Fincher. The meticulous man was at it again, with an impeccably shot and edited film. Despite only running 2h6m, the film is segmented and cut such that the experience is prolonged, and I absolutely loved the drawn-outness of the plot. It doesn’t feel rushed at any point, and, while I can see some of the criticism stemming from “dullness”, I disagree simply on the grounds that the film is too intelligent to drag, to interesting to get boring. If I have a criticism, it would have to be of the very last scene, which ends abruptly and was completely unsatisfying for me. An unhappy ending is fine, even welcome if done well, but I felt the end of the film doesn’t give the reverse-catharsis it needed to give to justify itself, hence making the rest of the film a little cheaper.

            Nonetheless, Se7en is a tantalizing, psychological thriller that raises essential questions of us as a society. If we are ruled by apathy, why should it be to a point? It’s a decent question, and, as one very memorable scene in the film points out: because we shouldn’t be, but until we’re not, a point will have to do. That was one of the things that deepened Pitt’s character the most for me, the fact that, despite his youth and lack of patience, he retained his spirit to fight. The fact that it was ripped from him by the end makes it that much more powerful, but I didn’t find it dejecting, I found it inspiring. Maybe I’m nuts, but I encourage you to find out for yourself.

Dhadak: Film Review

Dhadak Film Review

Story: Parthavi (Janhvi Kapoor), the daughter of a politician and Madhukar (Ishaan Khatter), the son of a restaurant owner fall deeply in love with each other. However, the fact that they belong to different socio-economic classes of society proves to be an obstacle in their romance. They dare to go against the norms of society leaving behind their past lives to keep their love alive. The story revolves around how the lovers face the harsh realities of life but are unaware of the extent their families will go till to keep their family honour.

Review: Dhadak brings a fresh take to Bollywood’s typical rom-coms. With its strength lying in the freshness and innocence it brings to the screen, presenting the new faces of Ishaan (as Madhukar) and Janhvi (as Parthavi). Do not go in the theatre expecting the stereotypical ‘guy meets girl but father has problem’ scenario. The film explores both the positive and negatives effects of love, allowing the audience to reflect upon this, making it all the more engaging. Like its inspiration, Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat, Dhadak dwells upon the facet of love trying to survive in the vicious world of politics and societal pressures. However it doesn’t deliver the grit and raw detailing depicted in Sairat.

Set in Udaipur, the movie begins as a light-hearted romance between the leading couple as they learn to fall in love. The first half is full of happy, cheerful scenes as Madhukar attempts to express his love for Parthavi, who instead decides to tease him further. As the movie progresses, the difficulties faced by the lovers get more prominent as Parthavi’s influential father (played by Ashutosh Rana) finds out about their love and attempts to tear them apart. Against all the odds, the couple find a way to elope. The movie shifts from Udaipur to Mumbai to Kolkata, unlike the original. The second half though remains dark throughout as it describes the challenges the couple face to make their place in a new environment.

Shashank Khaitan has done a praiseworthy job, directing Dhadak as he steps out of the light-hearted rom-coms for the first time. Dhadak marks Khaitan’s darkest film to date as he describes this naïve romance with sensitivity, incorporating highs of drama and suspense with an unexpected end. However, the journey isn’t consistent throughout.

The music by Ajay-Atul was definitely one of the strongest aspects of the film backed by the background scoring (John Stewart Eduri) adding a lot more depth to every scene. The title song ‘Dhadak’ and ‘Zingaat,’ a re-invention from Sairat, have been largely popular with the audience. Owing to its cinematography by Vishnu Rao, the movie is pleasing to the eye, making the most of Udaipur’s landscapes. Monisha R. Baldawa has done a good job with the editing, keeping it crisp in the first half but the pace slackens in the second half to highlight the problems they face in society.

Finally, coming to the performances, Janhvi of course looks beautiful throughout the movie with her rawness adding a lot to her characters performance. However, this being her debut film, she comes across as a little rough around the edges in the dramatic scenes in comparison to her co-star, but it’s a good start to her promising career in the industry. Ishaan (his second film) shows his maturity while playing his role as Madhukar, delivering powerful performances consistently throughout. Yes, it is possible to see that he is new to the industry with his performance but only if you scrutinize every scene. He brings the energy and passion of a newcomer to the screen. His talent and puppy dog eyes are perfect for the dramatic scenes in the movie. Ashutosh Rana plays his role as a merciless father and political figure with perfect intensity, being an experienced actor in the industry. While, Shridhar Watsar (Madhukar’s friend) never fails to make you laugh and is essential to balance the dark theme of the film.

Overall, if compared to the Sairat, it does not have its honesty, realism and depth but Bollywood is more of a commercial cinema in the end. The slow build up tension and suspense towards the shocking, forthright end leaves the audience with something to think about. Dhadak is a pleasant watch taking its audience through a journey of varying emotions with a light-hearted first half but a dark second half, definitely making the movie a worthy watch.

P.S. – DO NOT go for a morning show, trust me, I’m speaking from experience. Not only does the end affect your whole day but – young couples who go for a morning show – not the most pleasant atmosphere.