7 Days (Les 7 Jours du Talion) (Sundance ’10)

For another opinion, read Ryan Daley’s review:

Powerful performances and a challenging message make Daniel Grou’s (also known as “Podz”) 7 Days one of this year’s first surprise films to come from way out of left field. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, this French-Canadian thriller tells a deeply immersive story that at no point strays from its intended path and delivers with such a punch that you’ll be talking about it for 7 days after.

7 Days follows Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault), a thirty eight year-old surgeon who loses his eight year-old daughter Jasmine (Rose-Marie Coallier) to a “monster” who goes by the name of Anthony Lemaire (Martin Dubreuil). Anthony rapes and murders Bruno’s little girl, leading Bruno down a dark path that includes abducting and torturing the “monster” for several days. -official festival synopsis

In recent years, the idea of torture in a film puts an immediate bad taste in my mouth. That’s exactly what makes 7 Days such a success. I think it’s safe to make the presumption that many filmmakers would focus solely on the torture aspect of the film, conjuring up fierce and brutal ways to make the audience lose their lunch. Podz (the name still makes me giggle) does the opposite by intensely focusing on the characters and the story.

Adapted by Patrick Senecal from his own novel, Podz never loses sight on the lesson that Senecal is attempted to relay in 7 Days. While I’ll leave it up to you to interpret what you will, the film weighs heavily on right and wrong, revenge, repent and forgiveness. The audience in taken deep into the lives of Bruno and his wife, who both deal with their loss in very different ways. Podz pulls the strings of the audience by tinkering with their emotions; one second they’ll be screaming for Bruno to beat the living shit out of Anthony, then a minute later they’ll be second guessing their own emotions. It’s a remarkable piece of work that treads on some incredibly deep notions.

But don’t be completely fooled, there are a few scenes that enter the realm of “torture porn”, but are simply used as an aid to the story and emotional confusion Podz is trying to pour on the audience. When it’s brutal… it’s BRUTAL.

Again, that’s simply not what Podz was going for, and as a viewer you should go in knowing what to expect. 7 Days is an impressive piece of work by Podz from his camerawork to his visual style. As for the acting, it only aids in the film’s intensity and helps drive home that last emotional peak where Bruno needs to decide how to end the madness. In the end, 7 Days carries a solid message that is dished out brilliantly. If it were you, could you live with yourself if you didn’t do anything?

Official Score