Starring Starring Juan Diego, Jose Luis Gomez, Jose Garcia, Victoria Abril, Yohana Cobo, Eulialia Ramon, Ramon Fontsere, Carlos Hipolito. Directed by Carlos Saura. (2004/100 min).
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Review by Fluffy the Fearless🙀
One of the great things about this gig is I'm often given the opportunity to review films that I would never have discovered on my own. Quite frankly, there's a good reason I've never heard of a lot of them, while a few have become personal favorites I enjoy spreading the word about. Then there are movies like Spain's The 7th Day.
Consistently downbeat and occasionally plodding, this isn't what one would call a fun time at the movies. Still, its most powerful and tragic moments are likely to stick with the viewer long after it's over, especially when burdened with the knowledge it's based on a true story.
In true Shakespearian fashion, The 7th Day presents a decades-long family feud that begins when Luciana Fuentes is shunned by Amadeo Jimenez, the man she was expecting to marry. Her psychotic brother, Jeronimo (Ramon Fontsere), avenges her by stabbing him to death. While he's sent to prison, the Fuentes' matriarch is killed when their home is burnt down. It's suggested that this was in retaliation for Amadeo's murder, but we're never 100% certain who the culprit really is. The Fuentes's are mostly ostracized from Extremadura, the village where both families have always lived.
Fast forward thirty years...Jeronimo is released from prison and immediately stabs Amandeo's brother, Jose (Jose Garcia). While he survives, Jeronimo goes back to prison and dies shortly afterwards. The remainder of the Fuentes family - certain Jose killed their mother all those years ago - soon decide to act on their decades-long resentment of, not only the Jimenezes, but the entire village.
|Jeronimo is a little too cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.|
When the story focuses on the Fuentes family, The 7th Day is morbidly fascinating. Led by Luciana and Antonio (Juan Diego), they turn out to be as dangerously unhinged as their murderous brother, and it appears that this ongoing feud has been largely one-sided. These scenes are often disturbing, creating an increasing sense of dread as the film progresses. We just know something awful is about to happen.
Less interesting are the various subplots involving the village dynamics. As the troubled Jimenez patriarch, Jose is sympathetic and likable, as is his beleaguered wife Carmen (Eulalia Ramon). However, too much of the film features oldest daughter Isabel's (Yohana Cobo) relationship with Chino (Oriol Vila), a hunky local drug dealer. And unfortunately, most of the narrative is presented from her point of view. There are other scenes featuring peripheral characters, but few figure that prominently into the primary story (do we really care about an unfaithful wife's tryst with a truck driver?).
On the other hand, maybe presenting the tedium of their lives was director Carlos Saura's intention all along. Despite The 7th Day's rambling episodic structure, the final act is tension-filled and disturbing. The shattering climax may indeed seem inevitable, but every character is caught completely off-guard. Since we've gotten to know most of them - albeit superficially - how can we not be haunted by the denouement?
Whether one likes The 7th Day or not, its conclusion is undeniably potent and ultimately memorable. That alone make it worth checking out at-least once, which will probably be enough for some viewers.
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS