7 Days

7 Days


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

A kidnapper tortures his victim over the course of a week. He ramps up the excruciating ordeal while planning to kill his prey on the final, seventh day.

Sounds like a torture porn scenario, looks like it and certainly screams and bleeds like it, too. Yet writer Patrick Senecal and director Daniel Grou (aka Podz) would have us consider their French Canadian film something more. Rather than use a crazed psycho, what if their gorno were meted out by someone the audience should have sympathy and understanding for?

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There’s undoubted style and polish from Grou here, but the disjointed whole doesn’t stand up to the weight of its own pretensions. Perhaps Senecal’s book (on which his screenplay is based) read better, allowing more investment in the characters, but here everyone is eventually reduced to ciphers for the wider points to be made.

Bruno (Claude Legault) and Sylvie (Fanny Mallette) are urbane professionals, happy together with their eight-year-old Jasmine (Rose-Marie Coallier). Their stylish living then collapses when Jasmine fails to show for school one day. When she is discovered, raped and murdered, forensics lead the police to a known sex offender, Anthony (Martin Dubreil). Swiftly spiralling down an inconsolable slide of grief, anger and vengeance, Bruno takes matters into his own hands.

Underworld-lite connections made, he busts Anthony from police custody and drags him to a remote woodland house. His inexorable, self-justified revenge starts bluntly, with a sledgehammer. Then he focuses and, well, since he’s a surgeon...

Legault does a decent job of charting Bruno’s self-destruction, his actions gradually making him as monstrous as the man he is persecuting. However, the week’s events gather pace and as Bruno’s resolve and desire for palpable retribution are tested, so the set up is winched a little too high off the ground to remain even thinly credible. The relative ease with which Bruno nabs the exposed media villain Anthony is not the only plot point to break apart the world of 7 Days. Sadly, it seems more effort has gone into making the torture viscerally, sickeningly realistic (although not as graphic as other recent horrors) than into the actions that would purport to comment on it.

Shooting in flinty HD Grou delivers some solid imagery away from the torture den. Some more sombre scenes fall to Rémy Girard’s well-played rumpled and broken police detective, Hervé. He endures a similar pain and understands Bruno’s dissatisfaction with mere legal consequences, yet he knows where his moral ley lines rest. Senecal uses the polarisation to reflect on whether acts of retribution assuage the demands of a person’s, or indeed of society’s, grief and anger at being viciously wronged. It’s stark contrast and the resolution no less obvious.

The ending plays more to this theme than any other and could disappoint the sub-genre’s fans looking for that post-torture cathartic kick. That said, it does echo after the credits more than some contemporary splatter flicks. The echo resounds most with frustration, though, at what could have been rather than the coldly indulgent fare that remains.

Michael Haneke has mastered the gripping, encompassing criticism that is hinted at here, while Grou’s film gets lost in its own funny games. Ultimately, it is more the beast it would purport to examine and less the reflective master it thinks it is.

Reviewed on: 28 Sep 2010
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A doctor seeks revenge by kidnapping, torturing and killing the man who murdered his young daughter.
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Director: Daniel Grou

Writer: Patrick Senecal

Starring: Rémy Girard, Claude Legault, Fanny Mallette, Martin Dubreuil, Rose-Marie Coallier

Year: 2010

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada


Sundance 2010

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