I respectfully disagree with half of what this “Lesson From The Screenplay” essay is saying, which is that the theme of David Fincher‘s Se7en is “ultimately optimistic in nature.” Not so. It ends, in fact, with a philosophical sop that argues with the pitch–black finale. Morgan Freeman reads an Ernest Hemingway quote about “the world [being] a fine place and worth fighting for.” In the essay Michael, the narrator, rephrases Hemingway, saying that “the world is not a fine place…it is filled with inescapable pain and terrible people, but there is also good, and at the end of the day it is worth fighting for.”
Maybe so, but the reason Se7en is a classic is because it arranges things so that evil wins, and therefore ends on a note of despair and devastation — the life of a hot-tempered young cop ruined, an older cop stunned and shattered, and a bitter scheme fulfilled. A bad guy has kicked the law’s ass and guess what else? Kevin Spacey‘s John Doe, an impassioned serial killer, has a point about social ugliness running rampant. This is precisely what Brad Pitt said on a Criterion laser disc commentary track back in the ’90s, which is that as malevolent as John Doe may be, his observations about the ugly, self-loathing strains in our culture are not completely without merit.