Review: 7 Days Charmingly Brings Two People Together During the Pandemic’s Early Days of Keeping Us Apart

An early candidate for the most adorable film of the year, the festival favorite 7 Days recently won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature for director Roshan Sethi, who co-wrote the screenplay with lead actor Karan Soni. On the surface, the film checks a lot of the boxes of many a romantic comedy, but by not being afraid to get culturally specific in its quest to also feel universal, the movie feels utterly unique while serving as another example of a pandemic-made production that isn’t afraid to embrace the times and use it as part of its story. Soni (Safety Not Guaranteed, Deadpool) plays Ravi, a slightly awkward but still quite charming young Indian man living in California who is fervently trying to find a wife that both he and his beloved mother will like. He uses every Indian dating app he can find and has been on likely dozens of dates in his quest, but when the conversation immediately turns to his wanting three children or the declaration that his mother will be living with them, many of the more modern women he’s meeting run for the hills.

As the pandemic initially begins to impact daily life, he goes on a first date with Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan, Blockers, Bad Education), who seems to match his desire for a more traditional marriage, as well as his preferences for a non-drinking, vegetarian partner. However, in the middle of their date, lockdown is declared, and they end up going to her apartment where he can wait for his rental car to be ready. As one might guess, the rental car reservation vanishes in the rush for cars, and Ravi is left stranded at Rita’s place, where he quickly discovers that his entire first impression of her was a lie she propagated in order to tell her mother she’s going on dates with proper Indian men, so mom will keep paying her rent. In reality, she eats meat, drinks booze, and is even having an affair with a married man, whom she can’t see now because he’s locked down with his wife, all of it making Ravi immensely uncomfortable staying at Rita’s place without getting permission from both of their mothers.

Outside of the occasional face on a Zoom call or voice on the phone, the entirety of 7 Days is populated only by these two leads, and their charm and chemistry is delightful, serving as a fantastic way for the pair to actually get to know each other, perhaps get a little judgmental about the other’s lifestyle choices, but still become quite close in their seven days together (which just happens to be how long his parents knew each other before they got married). Days later, around the time his car is finally ready, Rita begins to show signs of being sick, and Ravi takes care of her until he has no choice but to send her to the hospital while he stays on in her place anxiously waiting to hear about any changes in her condition. He even gives regular updates to her mother, who becomes very fond of him in the process.

Soni and Viswanathan have proven themselves gifted comic actors in the last few years, but 7 Days gently nudges them into viable romantic leads as well, despite the film being blessedly free of sentimentality. There’s very little about either character and their beliefs that feels manufactured or exaggerated. And while some might think Ravi’s uncomfortably close relationship with his mother might be too much, as the film goes on, it becomes tempered and more believable, less about how much he fears her and more about how much he wants to make her happy. On the other hand, Rita hides within herself a bit of self-loathing, perhaps believing that she doesn’t deserve anyone except this very unavailable married man (referred to only as “Daddy” and clearly voiced by Mark Duplass, the executive producer of this film with brother Jay), with whom she can only have phone sex at this point.

Ravi and Rita’s conversations are honest, frank and sometimes life altering. When he makes the decision to stay and attempt to play nurse for her, it’s not out of obligation but because he has grown to truly care about her and her wellbeing. Their being together in the end is not a foregone conclusion. We’re not sure either is willing to budge on their ideas about relationships or themselves, but that doesn’t make watching them hang out and bond any less enjoyable. Instead of making a film about being isolated in a time of crisis, 7 Days dares to tell an uplifting story about people finding each other, and it does so with humor and heart.

7 Days is now playing in theaters.

 

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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