7 Fois


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

7 Fois
"The dynamic between the two young people is beautifully observed and very telling."

Inside the jar, the wasp struggles, confused by its inability to pass through the glass. It was lured in by jam and now, too late, it seems to recognise its own helplessness. Elio (Vidal Arzoni) watches it intently. When his mother comes home she tells him not to torture it. There’s only so much she can do to bring him up right, as she’s also working nightshifts in order to put food on the table. Life is tough for immigrants. Still, she’s confident that things are going well for her bright, lively boy, especially now that he has a tutor taking an interest in him. He seems to be on course for a bright future.

All this we learn within the first four minutes of Christine Wiederkehr’s tightly honed, beautifully acted film. It give us a fully realised world with characters whose relationship feels natural and lived-in, and the weight of that remains even when we leave their little apartment as the mother goes to sleep and the boy goes to visit the aforementioned tutor, Gérard (Antonin Schopfer). Gérard can’t be there right away, however, so the boy waits, and whilst he’s doing so, a young woman (Luna Wedler) comes to call. She’s perhaps 20, not all that much older than the boy, and it quickly becomes apparent that she’s Gérard’s mistress, and pregnant. The two wait together, and talk, a curious dynamic developing between them. The woman is ready to pour out her heart, and in her lover’s absence, she shares her secrets with Elio. He shares a secret too, but it’s not one she’s ready to believe.

The dynamic between the two young people is beautifully observed and very telling. The way she flits back and forth between treating him like a child and like a peer; the way she takes advantage of the situation to share all the worries she has no-one else to talk about. The downcast look in his eyes as he tries to guard his privacy. The way he moves away when she mentions sex. There is a world of information here which viewers will gradually pick up on. Does she grasp it, too? To what extent does she talk herself out of accepting as truth something that would be uncomfortable an inconvenient for her? To what extent could it force her to reexamine her own situation? Wiederkehr leaves us wondering.

The film’s final message, as the camera pulls back to show Elio standing alone in a window, invites viewers to reexamine their own lives, wondering what they might have missed, and also to think about the blurry line between avoiding difficult subjects and becoming complicit. Some, of course, will recognise Elio’s truth right away, but the film manages the risks to such viewers intelligently and knows when it is actually appropriate to create distance. What comes across more than anything is the sadness of it all. Arzoni, a highly talented young actor with a keen grasp of what’s at stake, makes a strong impression in the lead, and casting directors should sit up and take notice. This is a powerful little film, and he’s a big part of that.

Reviewed on: 08 Jun 2024
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7 Fois packshot
One afternoon a polite young boy, Elio, meets his tutor's secret lover. When he confides in her, sharing an even bigger secret, she's convinced he's joking and bursts out laughing.

Director: Christine Wiederkehr

Writer: Christine Wiederkehr

Starring: Vidal Arzoni, Luna Wedler, Mona Petri, Antonin Schopfer

Year: 2023

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: Switzerland


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