Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sundance On-Demand debuts with grizzly but intelligent, French-Canadian 7 DAYS

If you could catch and then torture for a week the man who raped and killed your little girl, how would you spend those  
7 DAYS? That's the not-necessarily-provocative ques-
tion asked by the French-Canadian film of the same name, directed by Daniel Grou and adapted from his own novel by Patrick Senécal  The answer provi-
ded by Messieurs Grou and Senécal, while bringing to mind the phrase "torture porn," manages a good deal more than that -- though there are couple of scenes that demand a strong stomach. (If you're a doctor/surgeon, you probably know well the ways to make your victim suffer, and that is what happens here.)

Director Grou (here billed as Podz) keeps his camera quietly roving
(there's little jump cutting and flashy editing) and his color palette drained of anything bright: It's mostly gray, dark green and blue, with a little brown
now and then.

The father of the kidnap victim (Claude Legault below, left) is strong, silent, taciturn -- until he explodes via phone to his wife. His victim (Martin Dubreuil below, right) lies, defies, begs, confes-
ses, whimpers, pleads and tries all the tricks in the book but remains mostly a victim for whom we can feel little.

As the detective in charge, well-known Quebec actor Rémy Girard (shown below) does wonders with his highly constricted role (making him a victim of a killer -- he lost his wife that way -- is a bit too neat, but we'll let that pass). The two major female roles are aptly handled by Fanny Mallette (shown at bottom, left) and Pascale Delhaes, with Rose-Marie Coallier properly sweet and fragile as the victim.

If 7 Days dealt only or mostly with the inflicting of pain, justified or not, we could indeed wave it away as torture porn. But that is not the case. For one thing, the film doubles as a pretty good police procedural; for another, it probes -- under the most trying circumstances -- love, guilt, retribution, penance, and sheer unending frustration. This easily lifts it above most others in the genre, which, for all their occasional dialog babble about morality, etc., end up being nothing more than sleazy entertainment.

7 Days manages to hold out interest and our concern -- without demeaning us in the process. It's an intelligent, difficult film. Sure, it could be better. But it could also be a hell of a lot worse.

So, how does one get to view it? The movie made its debut last Friday at the Sundance Film Festival as part of the Park City at Midnight program.  It is also part of the new Sundance Selects theatrical and video-on-demand film label, in which three films of very different style and content from this year's festival are making their debut simultaneously On-Demand from most major cable systems, including Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Time Warner and satellite provider Direct TV.

Each film will be available for 30 days on the cable systems' main movies-on-demand channel. TrustMovies hopes to cover the other two soon: the Michael Winterbottom/Mat Whitecross version of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine and the Safdie Brothers' Daddy Longlegs.

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