The third film adaptation of the work of Quebecís Patrick Senecal
(and the first to achieve a legitimate US release), 7 DAYS is a
provocative, multi-faceted study of a fatherís revenge on the man who
killed his daughter. Violent it is, but also thoughtful and
artful--though never especially arty.
Previous films based on the writing of Patrick Senecal
(none of which has been translated into English as of yet) include
EVIL WORDS and
5150 ELMíS WAY.
7 DAYS, or LES SEPT JOURS DU TALION, rived in 2009, and made a minor
splash at the following yearís Sundance Film Festival. It was the
feature directorial debut of Quebec TV veteran Daniel Grou, or as heís
credited here, Podz.
Bruno Hemel is a well-off doctor whose life is
shattered when the defiled corpse of his young daughter is discovered.
Four days later a young architect named Lemaire is arrested for the
murder. Deciding this punishment is insufficient, Bruno kidnaps Lemaire
as heís in transit to prison and takes him back to a secluded cabin for
a seven day orgy of torture.
Bruno is extremely cavalier in his actions, and so
immediately attracts the attention of the police. One of the
investigating officers is himself traumatized by the murder of a loved
one, specifically the manís wife, who was shot in a hold-up. This bonds
him and Bruno somewhat, but doesnít dissuade the latter from carrying
out his gruesome handiwork on Lemaire.
Bruno subjects his captive to beatings and
strangulation before moving on to more imaginative torments inspired by
Brunoís medical training (such as rewiring Lemaireís digestive tract
sans anesthesia). Lemaire initially claims heís falsely accused of
defiling Brunoís daughter but quickly changes his tune, and even takes
to bragging about his crimes.
In the meantime Bruno becomes a minor folk hero, with
various media pundits proclaiming the righteousness of his actions. One
person who believes otherwise is a woman whose own child was killed by
Lemaire; the woman claims in a TV interview that Bruno would be better
off getting on with his life and putting Lemaireís crimes out of his
mind. This is too much for Bruno, who kidnaps the woman and forces her
to confront Lemaire in the flesh. She refuses to be swayed from her
stance, and so Bruno knocks her out and deposits her at the side of a
road--where she wakes up and alerts police to Brunoís whereabouts.
Daniel Grou, or Podz, has created a surprisingly
stately and sophisticated film whose measured and deliberate filmmaking
somewhat offsets the graphic content. Thereís no music in the film,
which succeeds in building a fair amount of suspense and unease without
the sort of gratuitous shock effects you might expect. The subject
matter may recall grue fests like HOSTEL or
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, but 7 DAYS
is actually closer to the artful unpleasantness of European filmmakers
Michael Haneke and
although the film, again contrary to expectation, is never pretentious
or lacking in narrative drive.
The script by Patrick Senecal isnít as maniacally
inventive as those of the previous films adapted from his work, but
makes up for it in sheer provocation. You can be sure that every
conceivable moral quandary pertaining to vigilante justice is aired
here, which obviously doesnít make for an especially uplifting or
reassuring viewing experience.
In the lead role Claude Legault is award-worthy, while
Martin Dubreil delivers what is arguably the bravest performance of 2010
as the child molesting object of Legaultís vengeance--his acting,
however, is difficult to judge, as he spends most of the film bound and
7 DAYS (LES SEPT JOURS DU TALION)
Alliance Vivafilm/IFC Films
Director: Podz (Daniel Grou)
Producer: Nicole Robert
Screenplay: Patrick Senecal
(Based on a novel by Senecal)
Cinematography: Bernard Couture
Editing: Valerie Heroux
Cast: Claude Legault, Fanny Mallette, Martin Dubreuil, Remy Girard,
Rose-Marie Coallier, Alexandre Goyette, Dominique Quesnel, Pascale