Pairing a disturbing classic film with the right hoppy beverage
Beer pairs well with food, but have you ever thought about how it pairs with an experience? There are certain beers that lend well to different activities: Light beer after a hike on a sunny day, or a bourbon barrel-aged stout in front of a fire on a snowy one. Movies are no different. The feelings that a movie brings out of you can be complemented well with the right beverage, and I’ve decided to enjoy some of the classics in both realms.
“Seven” and Pliny the ElderPliny The Elder from California’s Russian River Brewing Co. pours with a golden, honey-like hue, and a light, fluffy head. It has an extremely floral nose with hints of pine. The first sip is very bitter – like grapefruit – which then gives way to a sweet piney flavor mixed with pineapple, and ultimately a crisp and bitter finish. This is one of the best Imperial IPAs in the known universe, and I can never, ever get enough of it.
The pieces of this beer’s puzzle are all echoed in the film “Seven.”
Bitter at the beginningAt the beginning of “Seven,” we are introduced to the film’s protagonist: Detective William Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman. We see him getting ready to go to work for a short bit before we enter his normal day on the job – the scene of a homicide. A woman had shot and killed her husband during an argument. Somerset inquires of another detective as to whether their child had witnessed the murder, to which the detective replies:
“What kind of f***in’ question is that? You know, we are all gonna be real glad when we get rid of you, Somerset, you know that? It’s always these questions with you. Did the kid see it? Who gives a f**k!? He’s dead. His wife killed him. Anything else has nothing to do with us.”
Right at the beginning, a bitter taste in my mouth, just like the beer. A detective with a heart, wanting to know if a child may need help coping with one of his parents murdering the other, and the response he gets is pretty much, “F*** you. You’re retiring soon. Not our problem.”
I took a big swig of Pliny after I heard that, and could feel that other cop’s bitterness towards the world, as well as Somerset’s bitterness that the world was different now, and he wasn’t built for it anymore.
SweetnessThough this film is mostly suspenseful, horrifying, and harsh, there is one character who brings a bit of sweetness to it: Tracy Mills, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. She is the innocent wife of Detective David Mills, played by Brad Pitt. Throughout the film, her scenes seem to be the only ones with any lighthearted feel to them. They are the ones that keep you grounded through the disturbing turmoil of the plot. Pliny The Elder’s sweet, piney, pineapple notes, hidden in a maze of pungent hop aromas and flavors, are exactly like Paltrow’s scenes in “Seven.”
Bitter in the end, too – SPOILERS!This beer, like this movie, started very bitter. They both continue bitterly throughout the experience, while occasionally surrendering to a certain sweetness. In the end, though, bitterness had the upper hand.
At the end of “Seven,” after it seems that Mills and Somerset have caught their man and justice has been served, all hell breaks loose. Apparently, the serial killer made Detective Mills part of his horrific masterpiece of pain and suffering. We find out that in order to finish his work covering all seven sins, Mills has to kill him (wrath). Turns out the killer was so jealous (envy) of Mills and his happy home, he killed Mills’ wife and had her head sent to him in a box. As Mills realizes what is in the box, an overwhelming feeling of distress washed over me.
The only light in this dark movie was now dead. Mills shot and killed the bad guy, meaning the killer won. Mills is going to jail, and this is the last case Somerset will ever work. It will haunt him forever.
The film, like the beer, left a bitter, acerbic taste in my mouth. The sweetness I tasted and experienced via Paltrow’s scenes were now forgotten, and all that was left was caustic.
Pliny not only helped me enjoy this film in a completely different way, but also helped to dull the pain. Let us not forget that Imperial IPAs have a considerable amount of alcohol in them, alcohol that I needed to help me cope with the dark and depressing themes of “Seven.”
Sean Moriarty has been drinking craft beer since before he was legally allowed to. He managed and bartended at Steamworks Brewing Co. from 2007-2017 and currently manages their digital marketing.