Les 7 jours du talion
starring Rémy Girard, Claude Legault, Fanny Mallette, Martin Dubreuil
screenplay by Patrick Senecal
directed by Daniel Grou
by Alex Jackson Perhaps one of the more overtly sadomasochistic entries in the torture-porn genre, French-Canadian Daniel Grou's 7 Days seems to be seething at the bit to get to the good stuff. When Jasmine (Rose-Marie Coallier), the eight-year-old daughter of surgeon Bruno Hamell (Claude Legault), is raped and murdered, he decides to kidnap, torture, and kill the man responsible and then turn himself in. Hamell catches the killer, a day labourer named Anthony Lemaire (Martin Dubreuil) who has been implicated through DNA evidence, ties him up, and strips off his clothes. Lemaire then spends the rest of the film completely naked. I hope it's not a function of a prudish American upbringing, but whenever this guy was on screen my eyes were immediately drawn to his exposed penis. Allegedly, the suspense is in whether or not the police will find and stop Hamell; in practice, the suspense is in when exactly Hamell will castrate Lemaire. Hamell smashes Lemaire's knee with a sledgehammer and we just think to ourselves, Well, thank God it was only his knee. 7 Days isn't about the horror of losing a daughter--it's about the horror of getting hit in the balls. I don't think Grou is a deliberate provocateur, per se. This is an utterly bleak and humourless movie, lacking the sensationalism and showmanship of Takashi Miike, Gaspar Noé, Eli Roth, or even Lars von Trier. Grou actually seems serious about this subject matter. But to quote Pauline Kael, that this film has impact doesn't make it art. Because we only see her body after the fact, Jasmine's rape and murder don't have the proportional weight of the resulting torture. It becomes an excuse to make a movie about a naked man being tortured. I also found the relationship between Hamell and Jasmine to be overly idyllic. I sense that anybody who would want to get revenge like this, who would have it in them to do these things to another human being, would already have a rather strained relationship with the person he's avenging. This isn't about Jasmine, it's all about Hamell, and we should get more of a sense of this egotism in his family life before the murder. 7 Days doesn't have a lot of insight into human behaviour, much less the ethics of vengeance or the emotional experience of mourning.