(A.k.a. SEVEN DAYS; LES SEPT JOURS DU TALION)
Young Jasmine (Rose-Marie Coallier) returns home from school one lunchtime and asks her dad, well-to-do surgeon Bruno (Claude Legault), to accompany her posting out invites to her impending birthday party.
Bruno's tired and prefers instead to spend the afternoon catching up on his beauty sleep while Jasmine goes back to school and his wife Sylvie (Fanny Mallette) scoots off to work. He wraps Jasmine up in her coat and suggests she posts the invites in through her friends' letterboxes on her return journey to school.
Later that afternoon, Jasmine's friend calls in and hands her homework to Bruno. It turns out Jasmine never actually made it to school ...
The police are alerted and Bruno joins in the hunt for Jasmine while Sylvie waits expectant and frantic at home. It's not long before the little girl's bloodied body is uncovered in a nearby field.
It also doesn't take long before detective Herve (Remy Girard) calls Bruno with the news that a suspect has been apprehended: Lemaire (Martin Dubreuil), a new arrival in the neighbourhood who has previous form for sexual assault.
Stricken with grief and a sense that he could've done more to protect his daughter (a notion backed by Sylvie), Bruno begins to develop a violent plan of his own.
Finding a remote house to hire for the week, Bruno disappears and abducts Lemaire from a police van along the way. The police - and Sylvie - quickly realise what's going on. But, can they persuade Bruno to give himself up ... or find his secret location before he fulfils his promise of killing Lemaire in seven days' time, on the very date that would've been Jasmine's birthday?
Daniel Grou's feature debut is a good-looking film that wastes no time in establishing its simple premise, before settling down into a flummoxing mix of queasy torture drama and low-key cop thriller.
The scenes exploring Herve's parallels with Bruno don't work so well, harming both the tone and pace of the film. Herve mourns the loss of his wife - she was shot six months earlier by a hoodlum who now sits in a prison cell. So, yeah, there's an understandable degree of empathy on his part - but it's overplayed and, ultimately, doesn't amount to much anyway.
The film's strong points are its initial set-up, as devastating as it sounds, and the subsequent scenes where Bruno - so seething with hatred that he cannot speak - vents his spleen on his daughter's killer. Don't forget, either, that Bruno is a doctor: he knows how to really fuck someone up while keeping them breathing ...
The cast are uniformly excellent, really bringing weight to the roles. Dubreuil almost elicits viewer sympathy (remarkable, considering) while Legault remains believable in a role that could've easily slipped into silly melodramatics.
Grou's disciplined, deliberately paced direction must surely be to thank here. Working with the same poise and matter-of-fact frankness of Michael Haneke, he takes the potentially portentous subject matter and fashions an involving, human drama from it. Of course, it helps that the screenplay was written by Patrick Senecal, who also wrote the novel the film's based upon.
Admittedly, the whole thing runs out of steam in the second half and the denouement is a tad disappointing. In hindsight though, it is at least in keeping with the grim earnest of the preceding 105 minutes.
At times echoing Lars von Trier's ANTICHRIST (the couple making love while their child comes to harm; the scenes of Bruno tending to the carcass of a deer, presumably doing for it that which he couldn't do for his daughter). But it's never as laboured or pretentious.
The screener disc provided by E1 Entertainment is very basic, offering the film and nothing else.
The film is presented fully uncut in a nice anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer that retains the original aspect ratio. Colours are somewhat muted, which I gather is how it's meant to look. It gives the film a slightly stylised sheen, akin to the TV shows that Grou cut his teeth on (specifically "The Hunger").
Images are sharp and detail is good, while depth is clean and grain is minimal. E1 have graced the film with a solid, problem-free presentation.
French-Canadian audio is presented in 2.0 and is extremely proficient throughout. Channels are evenly balanced, audio is audible and clean from beginning to end, and the track is free from hiss or any other unwelcome noises.
Optional English subtitles are well-written and easy to read.
No details were available at the time of writing, regarding extra features. Although I understand the Canadian release is quite barren, so I imagine the UK one will be too.
7 DAYS is a grim, well-made and very serious film. Its austerity may be off-putting for some; others may be disappointed by the lack of overt gore on display. But, whichever way you look at it, it's a powerful film and well worth a watch for that reason.
Also available on blu-ray.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by E1 Entertainment|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|