Film Noir to me is a very brittle thing. The film Double Indemnity was a very boring it was an intellectually dull film. I think that for me film noir has to have a very intellectual twist. Many of the characters in the typical Noir are transparent: the fem-fatal you know is evil, the lead character is evil also and there is really no need for a good character for a switch up. I believe that the neo-noir films; the ninth gate and seven. Each of these films demonstrates great character depth with a heightened level of competency that makes the characters cool. The plot in each of these movies was very thick and it entrances the watcher.
The ninth gate is one of my favorite films. I grew up a southern Baptist so the word Satin was not allowed. So naturally when someone makes a movie about him I was eager to watch. The film is introduced in darkness like all film noir. A man is hanging himself. The main character, Dean Corso, is casually ripping people off for a great piece of literature. He then acknowledges his corruption in the very next scene by taunting a competing buyer. The fem-fatal I am a little confused about because she could be either the devil worshiping Aires or the demon woman that he hooks up with in the end. The majority of this movie is shot in light but only during darkness in the movie do the real creepy things begin to happen. The demonic twist is just what this noir needed to rope me in. Plus the over enormous amount of competency displayed by Corso makes him extremely cool. Spoiler Alert the watcher is supposed to assume that he meets Satin in the end.
Se7en is one of the darkest films that I have ever seen. The catholic in me was intrigued by the tie to the seven deadly sins. The tow lead detectives Mills(Brad Pitt) and Sumerset (Morgan Freeman) are extremely competent characters. Mills is the simple detective with a wife at home and Sumerset is a cop that has been on the job for way too long. Sumerset is jaded by all the crime that he has seen. He has devolved a hard shell to keep him from succumbing under the torture of the job. They each see the atrocities of the crime and judge it as wrong. Oh but the killer he sees this. His whole point about killing is that to make people see the darkness or wrong with in them. His final tactic is to show the detective that human nature is evil, that given the right catalyst even Mills can commit a crime like murder. In the end he was right.
These two film noir highlight the darkness in human existence. They capture what Noir and make it a sort of social commentary. The point of Noir is that we are all a little evil on the inside whether we want to face it or not.