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Thursday, November 11, 2010

7 Days (2010) review


Claude Legault (Bruno Hamel), Remy Girard (Herve Mercure), Martin Dubreuil (Anthony Lamaire), Fanny Mallette (Sylvie Hamel), Rose-Marie Coallier (Jasmine Hamel)

Directed by Daniel Grou

The Short Version: Unconscionably brutal revenge thriller told in an artistic fashion. Do not watch if you are in a depressed state, Grou's movie offers nothing in the way of an uplifting experience. Whether you cheer the lead on or not depends on how you feel about capital punishment and the criminals who sometimes go free. A very well made, thought provoking motion picture.

The daughter of a successful working class couple is kidnapped after leaving for school one morning. Later that afternoon, it's learned that their daughter, Jasmine never made it there. The little girls body soon turns up bearing signs she had been brutally beaten and raped before she was murdered. The killer, Anthony Lamaire, is soon caught and it's learned he had already been arrested once for a prior offense, but released due to lack of evidence. Suffering extreme guilt and loss, the girls father, a surgeon, decides to take the law into his own hands by kidnapping her murderer and torturing him in horrible fashion for seven gruelling days.

This Canadian film shot in Quebec is a French language revenge picture that recalls so many similar movies since the genre defining DEATH WISH (1974). But 7 DAYS is quite a bit different despite the familiar trappings and sometimes excruciating brutality. It's told in an artistic fashion often with little in the way of dialog and totally bereft of a musical score. Throughout the entire film, the camera often lingers on a scene, mostly resting on the emotion on an actors face. The camera gets a lot of mileage out of simple facial expressions with little to no oral delivery aside from frequent screaming of the child murderer once Bruno has captured him. It would be difficult for this film to garner an 'R' rating what with the amount of shots of full frontal male nudity. Lamaire is completely naked as Bruno mercilessly tortures him.

Prior to his stealth laden abduction of Lamaire from police custody, Bruno pays one man to help in an elaborate ruse to kidnap the killer and pays another to construct a meticulous device which will be used in his vicious retribution. He's so obsessed with Lamaire, he doles out thousands and thousands of dollars to bring his vendetta to fruition. The crux of Bruno's torment is obviously the callous butchering of his little girl, but what pushes him further into delirium is the notion that this event could have possibly been avoided had he been awake when the school initially called that Jasmine never made it to school.

Both he and his wife struggle with their feeling that one, or both are at fault and if they both had not been doing this, or that, than their daughter may still be alive. Suffering from guilt and willing to throw away all he has accrued throughout his life, the anguished doctor unleashes all his frustrations on Lemaire once he has him strapped to his torture device. The first few days involve brute force perpetrated on the pedophilic killer. The days after that, Bruno puts his medical skills to use in ghastly fashion. The level of violence is exceedingly high during a few sequences, but despite a punishingly gloomy atmosphere, the movie never gets too gory.

Consumed with grief, Bruno lets the cops know his intentions and they are desperate to find his location before the seven days are up, which happens to coincide on what would have been his daughters eighth birthday. It's almost as if the despondent doctor wants to be arrested for the crime he is about to commit. The main detective on the case, Herve Mercure, shares a similar loss with Bruno. His wife was shot dead in cold blood during a convenience store robbery. A few scenes show just how much Herve continues to grieve over this, watching the camera footage of his wife being killed over and over again. He is constantly at war with his own feelings of exacting revenge and his duty as a police officer.

Grou's movie is a fascinating study of the dark side of man that intricately blurs the line between right and wrong. At one point in the movie, Bruno's actions are praised by several people in town. However, one woman who also lost a loved one to Lamaire condemns his actions proclaiming him wrong for what he has done. He becomes so incensed, he then kidnaps this woman and brings her to the isolated cabin and tries to force the hate from her that she, too, felt for Lamaire to once more rise to the surface in the hopes she will exact some revenge of her own.

The presence of a dead deer carcass acts as some form of metaphorical significance possibly linking the dead animal with that of Bruno's deceased daughter. At one point, he takes it out to the middle of a lake and dumps it there only for it to make its way back to the shoreline. Dr. Hamel also feeds his quarry some of the raw meat. Admittedly, there's an area, or two that could have been explored more, but as it is, 7 DAYS (2010) is a gripping, frequently depressing experience. The ending isn't what you'd expect and it, too, raises more questions. While definitely not a movie to watch with the family, it's a thought provoking piece of work for those wishing to explore an alternative to the more derivative form of the cinema of revenge.

This review is representative of the MPI DVD


Carl Manes said...

Sounds excellent, I'm in! God, there is an itch in my brain that I have seen something similar to this, but I can't figure it out.. I don't think it is DEVIL'S REJECTS, and I don't think it is TAKEN.. Some other Horror title though.. Will be adding this to the que on your rec V!


venoms5 said...

This film and DEVIL'S REJECTS are complete and total polar opposites. I wouldn't even say this was really a horror movie, although it has horror elements. Some compare it to SAW or HOSTEL and that's a bit unfair. It's far more cerebral than either of those movies. But if you go into it expecting that kind of picture, you'll be disappointed, I'd say. It's incredibly downbeat, though and well worth seeking out.

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