7 Days is Roshan Sethi’s feature directorial debut in which he also serves as a writer alongside Karan Soni. This movie is almost a cross between Two Night Stand(2014) and Shiva Baby(2021) minus the sex and shiva. But in this case our protagonists Ravi(Karan Soni) and Rita(Geraldine Viswanathan) are set up on a date by their parents with the hope that it will end in marriage. While on their date the unthinkable happens and they are forced to shelter in place, at Rita’s house, while Ravi figures out a way to get home. One day turns into two, then three, and so on and the story starts to gain momentum.
Fundamentally, 7 Days explores the story of polar opposites who are confined to live, learn, and loosen up until restrictions are lifted. It is here that we get to learn more about our protagonists and who they truly are. We have Ravi, a researcher at a university, who is a Type-A clean freak, that tries to uphold traditional Indian values to please his mother and keeps track of various dates on his marriage spreadsheet. In turn, we have Rita, a painter, who is currently unemployed and nothing like she appears when she first met Ravi. Rita is much more laid back. She is also in charge of her own sexuality and much less robotic than Ravi. But beneath this seemingly strong exterior Rita struggles to live up to her mother’s standards who claims no man will love the real you. This relationship between parents and adult children was an interesting addition to the movie as our characters navigate various interpersonal circumstances as they remained confined.
As time progresses and somewhat unknowingly Ravi and Rita start to build a playful rapport and, at times, even confide in each other. Rita teaches Ravi to loosen up a bit. While Ravi teaches her to cook. There are several bumps along the way which you’ll have to tune in to tune in to find out. Production wise this movie really benefits from occurring in a singular location and focusing on the protagonists’ journeys instead. There is nothing here that will blow your mind but it is definitely worth a watch.
Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons exhibits remarkable effort. Her directorial debut is creative, kind, well written, takes measured risks, and is above all charming. It doesn’t only have a strong authentic voice, but there’s a certain solidity, a cut to the narrative that makes it stick the landing rather than just not fumble it. Natalie plays Cariño who’s accepted advance payment to teach Mark Duplass’s Adam 100 Spanish lessons as his online tutor. Adam’s husband Will, who gifted him the lessons, passes away from an accident very early in the film. Portending a closer relationship between this teacher and student than is orthodox, and laying the first pavestone for the coming narrative built on relationship and communication.
Duplass and Morales take turns answering each other’s video calls frazzled, exhausted, or just plain tired. Cariño does her best to help Adam continue after his loss. Adam begins to put himself back in order. At one point leaving her a sarcastic video message from his in-home gym about how she’s to blame for his suffering. They take turns exchanging banter, until one day Cariño doesn’t turn on her camera during their lesson. This a strong formal hint at a change of pace and rising action. Adam visibly behaves differently during this sequence, and as their lesson is coming to a close her camera comes to life. Exposing her bruised and cut face. She insists it was a bike accident and has to leave but Adam, like the reader doesn’t believe her story.
Rather than giving more of the narrative away I’ll focus on the craft of Language Lessons and why it’s such a breath of fresh air. We’ve seen more than a few webcam film entries during COVID. Language Lessons shirks building it’s narrative in the COVID world and instead frames it’s story so it makes sense outside the pandemic. With Adam in Oakland and Cariño in Costa Rica. This feels like a story being told exactly as it might’ve occurred, rather than a screenplay being slapped together to acclimate to the conditions as so many entries from this period seem to be doing. There feels to be an external world even though we only see from the vantage point of webcams and in device cameras. Morales has long been a magnetic performer, I can’t wait to see her continue to mature both behind and in front of the screen.