Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Daniel Grou
Starring Claude Legault, Rémy Girard, Martin Dubreuil, Fanny Mallette
Distributed by E1 Entertainment
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it doesn’t come much colder than that delivered in French Canadian offering 7 Days. When their young daughter is abducted, raped and murdered by serial sex attacker Anthony Lemaire (Dubreuil), Bruno Hamel (Legault) and his wife, Sylvie, (Mallette) find themselves in a downward spiral of grief. With the perpetrator swiftly picked up by the authorities, the raging desire for vengeance sees surgeon Bruno kick into motion a plan to kidnap, imprison, and systematically torture the human monster.
Of course, having a broad knowledge of the human body, the grieving father is in a position to make Lemaire suffer immeasurably for the course of the seven days leading to what would have been his daughter’s birthday. Scenes of battery, breakage, chain whipping, horrific surgical procedures and more will prove difficult to watch for many; but Grou’s film could never be accused of landing within the “Torture Porn” subgenre – there’s nothing pleasurable or entertaining about Hemel’s revenge. The film refuses to invite you to revel in the abuse; no knowing winks or nods are offered to suggest that this is just a slice of standard gory fare. The intentions run far deeper.
Grou’s film is an uncompromisingly dark tale of the negative extremes of human behaviour. As Bruno enacts his vengeance on the flesh of his captive, he is juxtaposed with the character of lead detective Hervé Mercure (Girard) – a man who also harbours his own grief, having lost his wife in a convenience store robbery. To remember the woman he lost, he spends most of his time at home watching CCTV footage of his wife’s final moments. Interactions between these two characters form the real meat of 7 Days, forcing you to consider just how you would approach a similar situation: Let legal justice run its course, or quench your thirst for revenge with blood? That is, if such a thirst can even be quenched in the first place.
The cast are uniformly excellent, playing their roles with the perfect level of conviction. Rémy Girard stands out effortlessly as the conflicted, desperate and emotionally damaged detective Mercure, while Martin Dubreuil deserves recognition for taking on a challenging role that sees him naked, shouting and crying for the majority of the runtime. Legault carries the film well as Bruno, consumed with a grief and rage that only seems to swell as he enacts his physical vengeance until it threatens to destroy him and innocents around him. The script does make him quite hard to sympathise with as the later stages of the film approach, but one suspects that this is indeed the intention. The concept here is one that could very easily fall apart with either a too flippant or melodramatic approach, but Grou and co. have nailed it.
Sapped of colour, 7 Days presents itself in bleak shades of green and careful shadows. The lack of a score and occasional lengthy segments with no dialogue ensure that there is nothing to act as a distraction to the events depicted; the viewer remains a captive witness to the hideous depths to which a person can fall. This captivation ensures that the more than two-hour runtime of the film is barely even noticed. Grou has created an unflinching, emotionally raw and brutal world of moral ambiguity formed in shades of gray, a world where catharsis simply may not be ahead whatever the path taken. 7 Days is a stunning piece of work: gripping, emotional and thoughtful. Whether or not you agree with the characters’ actions or the ultimate message of the film (delivered with pitch-perfect numbness in the closing moments), it remains a startlingly intelligent exploration of the nature of revenge.
E1 Entertainment’s DVD presentation is well constructed. For such a dark and muted colour palette, it would be easy to have the film reduced to a smudgy mess. Luckily, the transfer is pristine and crucial shadows rock solid. The review screener contained nothing in the way of special features, and sources appear to indicate that the release features only the trailer. Regardless, the film itself is definitely good enough to warrant the purchase.
4 1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
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