I wanted to put this in the main post but decided it was too ‘liberal arts degree’ for a snarky review so just to be clear:
Milton Isn’t a Shortcut to Profundity
I thought this was my fault for not watching Se7en. But having done my homework, I am astounded that I now get to explain this to a professional writer.
When Milton is quoted in Se7en, Morgan Freeman immediately says where it’s from, and then lays out what we, the audience, can expect having learned this new information.
The point of the Milton quote is to show that John Doe is well-read. It mixes in with the library scenes from earlier and also emphasizes the studiousness of Detective Morgan Freeman, as juxtaposed against Brad Pitt’s impatient refusal to read anything but the cliff notes. You know, the crux that naturally leads to the film’s ending.
“Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.”Milton but also John Doe in Se7en
The Invitation does things a bit differently. The quote is read, one character asks if it’s from The Bible. Dt. Somerset says “No, no, it’s Milton! It’s from Paradise Lost!” and this thread is never picked up again. A writer looking to build on the original work, rather than rip it off, might take the opportunity to create a “Satan as the hero” motif. Here it appears, is given prominence, and then vanishes. It gives the impression they are trying to be clever and failing.
Similarly, Hemingway is an allusion to the core of Dt. Somerset’s character as established through conversations with numerous other actors, and also a call-back to a specific scene shared with Dt. Mills that this play does not include.
Every actor is obviously giving The Invitation their best shot, and without the context of the movie Se7en, I almost laughed out loud. The raw material does not warrant Hemingway.