7 Days [Tribeca21 Review]

COVID films are already something that I am over with. While life might be coming back to normal for most of us, the pandemic is still and its effects are still so close that watching films that tackle the subject is just not something that I can find myself enjoying. It’s normal that filmmakers are finding themselves tackling the subject, after all, most of them had to make films in the middle of it all and explain why the film was either with only a few actors or why they must stand at a distance. It’s something that we will have to deal with for a while, some have found ways to go around it like Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons but others decide to simply put the pandemic in their films. Roshan Sethi’s 7 Days takes the second approach, making COVID and the effect of the pandemic at the center of the film. But unlike so many pandemic-related films, this one is one of the few that actually works.

Setup on a pre-arranged date by their old-fashioned Indian parents, Ravi (Deadpool’s Karan Soni) and Rita (The Broken Hearts Gallery’s Geraldine Viswanathan) seemingly have nothing in common, making for an afternoon that, while pleasant enough, couldn’t be any more awkward. He’s conservative and clearly nervous, while she’s doing her best to politely keep on smiling. But then the unthinkable happens: As the COVID outbreak intensifies, the shelter-in-place mandate is issued, forcing Ravi to spend the night at Rita’s place. Before long, he sees that she’s not the straight-laced girl she initially pretended to be. As their time stuck together stretches towards a full week, though, Ravi and Rita develop an unlikely bond, and in the face of a heartbreaking turn of events, that bond grows into something stronger.

With his directorial debut, co-writer Roshan Sethi sets up one of those love stories that you can’t help but root for. Yes, it’s awkward at first and you cringe more than once while Ravi and Rita get to know one another and yet, by the end, you are rooting for them. It’s seamless, and the setup of them being stuck together in such a stressful environment works to its advantage. This is one of the few times where the idea of the pandemic is used properly. There’s something realistic about this situation, and the pandemic is used as a propeller to the story, even when it becomes about the virus, it always stays about Rita and Ravi. It’s clear that Sethi has an idea of what he wanted to create and he does it flawlessly.

Geraldine Viswanathan has become one of my favourite working actresses right now. Her career trajectory has been one that I have just enjoyed witnessing and following along. Her projects are always something I enjoy and she always finds a way to be a standout in everything she does. With 7 Days that is no different, she once again proves that she is one of those actresses that is just always funny but also can deliver a sucker punch like no one else. She always manages to find the nuance in her characters and bring layered performances that stay with you long after the film has finished. 

Karan Soni, who also co-wrote the script with Sethi, proves that he deserves so much more attention. He is one of those actors that is always a scene-stealer in everything he does, but with 7 Days he proves that he can lead his own films. His chemistry with Viswanathan is a standout but even when he is by himself, he commands the screen. It’s a difficult task since most of the third act of the film is just him in the apartment on zoom. It’s a performance that I should have expected from him, after all, he has been stellar in everything he has done before, and yet, it was still so surprising and refreshing to watch it unfold.

Sure, 7 Days won’t change the romantic comedy setup and uses tropes that we know. The thing is it doesn’t need to. There’s this idea that every film need to revolutionize its genre and that just isn’t the case. This film uses what it needs in order to craft the film it needs to be, this film lives and dies with the characters, with Ravi and Rita. Without Soni and Viswanathan that just wouldn’t happen. Their chemistry is so incredible that you can feel it even when they talk through a closed door. It’s something that you can’t command, it is just there and 7 Days needed that chemistry in order to be what it is.

Roshan Sethi’s 7 Days might just be the exception to the COVID film rule. It delivers a sucker punch in its third act that does take a bit away from the story but because the acting is just so good, it’s easy to forgive and forget. Is it cheesy? Yes, but that’s okay, sometimes being cheesy works in your advantage and this is the case for this film. There’s just something so pure about this film that it’s impossible not to command it for what it does.