The Film: 7 Days (2010)
The Principles: Daniel Grou (Director), Claude Legault, Remy Girard, Martin Dubreil
The Premise: A doctor takes loses his own humanity in an attempt to extract revenge on a man who raped and killed his 8 year old daughter.
Is It Good: Extremely. 7 Days is a French movie that covers a crowded revenge genre in a way that isn’t the most unique, but it does so in a realistic way that most don’t come close to.
The premise is pretty simple. A brain surgeon says goodbye to his daughter in the morning as she goes off to school. He later finds out she never made it to school, and helps the police look for her until they find her savagely beaten and mutilated body, complete with blood on her inner thighs and her underwear around her foot. The police find enough DNA evidence that they quickly catch the guy who did it. The possible prison sentence (15-25 years, which I also think is too little for something so horrible) is not considered viable by the doctor, so he plans to kidnap and then torture the criminal. I don’t think I’m going into spoiler territory given the name of the movie, but when he does capture the bad guy, he notifies the police he intends to torture him for 7 days, and then he will turn himself in.
The range of emotions they walk through with the doctor are so well done it is hard not to relate to the character. No matter how passive a person you are, the thought of seeing your daughter maimed and raped as his little girl was definitely makes you wonder what you would be capable of. When he first captures the rapist, he shows no compassion, but also shows no emotion. This is how I felt this embraced reality. He doesn’t say a word, and always looks on the verge of tears.
Most the movie has the doctor silent with his hostage. When he does talk, he asks questions, and if not asking, gives very little information to the creep. The subtlety of the film, is that soon the mood of the doctor begins to switch from righteous and vengeful to remorseful and horrified at what he has become. It begins as a slow gradual change, but by the end of the film, you almost hope for things to be over so the doctor can get his peace.
The acting in this film is top notch. The doctor in particular takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, and does so with such a gradual pace that it all feels natural. As the film changes from revenge to deeper subject material, it is one hundred percent carried and mastered by Claude Legault. His performance screams for more accolades than it received.
The film does a nice job separating itself from typical U.S standards and pushes the limits very quickly. The shots of the girl when her corpse is found is a sight that nightmares can be built from. The subtle shift from zombie like face to the panties around the ankle does not give the jarring experience you may expect, but instead eerily penetrates the empathy it demands.
The cinematography is beautiful when it gets the chance to breath in the outdoors. The scenery is amazing when it breaks from the normal where the majority of the film is spent in the basement of a cottage. Every time they go outside the movie turns from stale torture chamber/deserted hideaway to grand landscapes and water reflected sunsets. The fall/winter trees represent the hollow feeling the doctor has while shielding his character and soul from unwanted eyes.
I have rarely found a revenge film that so beautifully switches it’s tone to the loss of emotion that revenge takes. The longer the torture goes on, the harder it is to watch the torture, but also the harder it is to watch the doctor doing the torture. He quickly goes from someone amped up on emotion to someone who feels compassion for his victim, and the damage he is doing to him.
Is It Worth A Look: Definitely. One of the more solid revenge movies I have seen in a while. It verges quite a bit on the torture porn side, so it does take a strong stomach. The visuals are in your face during the showing of the corpse and the beginning of the torture. I actually felt they backed away from the in your face approach to mimic the feelings of the doctor. When he is rage filled the torture is raw and visual, but by the end of the film, it encompassed the detached doctor and we see less and less of the big bad. This is stuff that normally veteran directors attempt to blend into the film, and it is executed here to perfection.
The film uses no music anywhere. Not even during the credits.
Cinematic Soulmates: Saw, Eye For an Eye, Hostel, I saw the Devil