VideoVista covers rental and retail titles in all genres and movie or TV categories, with filmmaker interviews, auteur profiles, top 10 lists,
plus regular prize draws.
INDEX OF ALL REVIEWS
SEARCH THIS SITE
TOP 10 LISTS
INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
RETRO REVIEWS SECTION
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTORS
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
SUPPORT THIS SITE -
SHOP USING THESE LINKS
visit other Pigasus Press sites...
The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies
cast: Claude Legault, R�my Girard, Martin Dubreuil, and Fanny Mallette
director: Daniel Grou
106 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
E1 DVD Region 2 retail
review by Jonathan McCalmont
Based on the novel Les Sept Jours du Talion (2002) by the Quebecois author Patrick Sen�cal (who also wrote this film's screenplay),
7 Days (aka: Les 7 jours du talion) is a disturbing examination of one man's descent into savagery. Filmed in a grittily realistic
fashion that reinforces the seriousness of the film's central theme, 7 Days certainly makes for harrowing viewing. However, despite a
high-minded script, some decent performances and a laudable willingness to allow the film's themes and atmospheres to speak for themselves,
7 Days is ultimately let down not only by its failure to say anything new but also its failure to trust its own source material.
Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault) is a surgeon and a family man. Living in the suburbs with his wife (Fanny Mallette) and daughter, his personality
is one of a doting father and a peacefully sensitive husband. One day, while he is napping, Hamel's daughter Jasmine disappears. After a brief
search, Jasmine's pale white body turns up in some woods. An ugly crime perpetrated by a careless killer who is swiftly brought to book by the
psychologically fragile detective Mercure (R�my Girard).
Mercure assures Hamel and his wife that the killer will go to prison for 20 to 25 years, but this is not enough for Hamel. Wracked with guilt,
the surgeon abducts the killer (Martin Dubreuil) from police custody and takes him to an isolated cabin in the woods. Hamel informs the local
media that he will torture the killer for a period of seven days before killing him and turning himself in. The clock is ticking. Mercure,
himself the father of a murdered child, races to track Hamel down not in order to save the murderous paedophile but in order to save what is
left of Hamel's decaying humanity. By torturing and killing the paedophile, Hamel is also torturing and killing the peaceful family man he
once was. The question is, will Mercure get to Hamel before he erases all traces of the man he once was?
Visually speaking, 7 Days is an impressive piece of work. Shot at an amazingly sedate pace through the icy chill of a blue filter, the
film depicts a cold and alien world in which only the love of a child can provide shelter. By killing Hamel's child, the killer also deprived
Hamel of shelter. Forced out into the coldness of the world, Hamel begins to change. 7 Days' torture sequences are amongst the most
disturbing I have seen this side of a film by Gaspar Noe.
Early on, Hamel breaks one of the killer's legs with a sledgehammer before leaving him to spend the night hopping on one foot as he screams in
pain with every second of lost balance or snatched rest. From there we move on to brutal beatings, un-necessary surgery and horrific abductions,
all of which are then promptly followed by bouts of self-harm as Hamel desperately punishes himself for the atrocities he is committing. All
of this is shot in a painstakingly realistic fashion. The world of 7 Days is not only cold; it is encrusted with dried blood, smeared
shit and the pus that drips from an untreated surgical incision.
Legault does an excellent job of portraying a man who is not so much falling apart as cannibalising his old personality as he slowly mutates
from a peaceful family man to a hideously detached psychopath built purely to exact vengeance. The transformation is complete when Hamel sees
the mother of one of the killer's victims on TV expressing her distaste for what he is doing. This prompts him to abduct her from her home,
in an act eerily reminiscent of the killer's own methodology.
Unfortunately, while 7 Days is a well-made and undeniably high-minded piece of filmmaking, it is not a particularly original one. Indeed,
Hamel's moral conflict over killing the murderer of his child rapidly becomes repetitive as the film sorts itself into a cycle of torture,
self-harm and self-justification. This repetition not only serves to deaden the impact of Hamel's violence, it also fails to offer very much
insight into Hamel's psychological state as he spends much of the film sitting alone between a frozen river and a dead deer that handily
symbolise his decaying humanity. Indeed, it is worth noting that in Patrick Sen�cal's original novel, much more is made of Hamel's relationship
with the media.
By devoting so much of his novel to the media's depiction of Hamel's crimes, Sen�cal effectively exteriorises his character's internal moral
battlefield. When vox pops and talking heads present arguments for or against torturing the killer, these sound-bites illustrate the thoughts
going through Hamel's head. By involving the media, Hamel is effectively allowing his descent into savagery to take place entirely in the public
sphere. As a result, when Hamel decides to abduct the mother of one of the killer's victims, he is not only turning his new capacity for violence
against one of the 'good guys' he is also turning it against himself in the form of his newly public and exteriorised conscience.
By de-emphasising the role of the media in Hamel's moral conflict, Sen�cal's script ultimately denies us access to Hamel's mind, which is where
the bulk of the story's action takes place. Indeed, robbed of this externalised morality, 7 Days comes across merely as a watered down
version of either Claude Chabrol's This Man Must Die (1969), or Sam
Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971). It offers us nothing that we have not seen before.