Film Review – 7 Days
When our lives change from what we deem is “normal” for us, these changes will inevitably bleed into the arts. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted our social lives to video calls and Zoom, as well as becoming aware of what shelter in place and lockdowns are. Several films have already tackled this shift in our lives, and more are on the horizon. 7 Days (2021) is not an exception, but it has taken a cultural phenomenon and applied to our restricted social lives.
7 Days starts by explaining a bit about arranged marriages in Asian Indian families. A few real-life couples are interviewed about their experience, and then the film touches on how particular online dating sites try to mimic an arranged marriage. The men and women may not even be the ones who put their dating profiles on the site; their families and, more than likely, their mothers are the culprits. Ravi (Karan Sovi) is a scientist, one of three brothers, and is desperately still single. He wants to find a wife and have kids, and while he doesn’t have an arranged marriage, this online version of it is what he is pursuing to reach that marital goal. Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan) is not so much into this whole marriage thing, but she does it to appease her mother. The problem is that what Rita’s profile says she is like is not true, but this is what her mother thinks Rita is like (or at least wants her to be). They are set up on a date, both mothers agreeing to it. The date is in a barren reservoir, and Ravi is already cued into an incoming pandemic with a mask and gloves as the two try to enjoy a little something to eat. Unfortunately, the pandemic tumbles quickly into a shelter-in-place situation while on this date.
The addition of the pandemic situation to this story complicates a possible love story, as it already is making conservative Ravi more of a germaphobe than he already may be. When the shelter in place order comes through, everything stalls and shuts down, including the car rental Ravi had. This delay forces Ravi to spend some time at Rita’s place and spend the night. Yikes! Rita’s façade (or the one she shows her mother and prospective husbands) quickly fades as Ravi finds things like meat and alcohol at her place, as well as hearing lude conversations with “Daddy” over the phone. Suffice it to say; things are not going to work out.
The film follows the formula of many before it that two people will learn more about each other when they are forced to share a space and cannot leave. When they are of the opposite sex and are heterosexual, a surface-level attraction might develop. While Ravi and Rita are not suited for each other, they learn more about each other and break down each other’s walls.
The problem with films like 7 Days is that its backdrop is the pandemic, something we are unfortunately still going through right now. I don’t really want to watch a fictional film based on the current reality or possibly one that was just relevant last year. If you are watching television or a film at home or in a theatre during a pandemic, you are probably going to want to escape what is going on outside the door. Films that base their stories on the construct of the pandemic will possibly alienate certain audience members who have no interest in seeing it, like myself.
7 Days does have some comedic relief, and I appreciated the glimpse into pseudo-arranged marriages in the online dating world. However, the film tries to compress all of the typical experiences of a pandemic drama into a week in the life of Ravi and Rita, which is a stretch. If 7 Days had set their film in the middle of a hurricane or some other sort of situation where the two main characters had to stay together, the film would be better off. The writers and director of 7 Days should be lauded for jumping into action so quickly and building a possible love story in our current reality. Basing the film on the pandemic may also alienate or turn off some viewers, and unfortunately, I was one of those people.
*This film review is a part of the Bentonville Film Festival.