7 Days is a high-concept rom-com that ends up feeling defanged by narrative missteps and inconsistent chemistry.
Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan star in 7 Days, the latest Covid-era flick to try and wring some optimism out of a pandemic by using quarantine as an excuse to lock their characters up together. After a lukewarm first date arranged by their parents, Ravi and Rita are forced to shelter in place together at Rita’s home until Ravi can travel again. But in such close quarters, Rita’s façade of being the perfect traditional Indian woman cracks immediately, and both she and Ravi are forced to confront what they really want out of a relationship.
7 Days occupies two peculiar worlds — the bizarre adjustment period of early lockdowns, and the meticulous, goal-oriented world of modern arranged marriages. For the latter, the screenplay penned by Soni and director Roshan Sethi is pleasantly astute, examining both Ravi and Rita’s feelings on matchmaking. Ravi, with his spreadsheet of potential wives and habit of turning dates into interrogations, clashes with Rita, whose real life is worlds away from what her mother advertises on dating sites, and who is more than happy with the idea of remaining single. Ravi and Rita fall into the classic When Harry Met Sally… mold, a couple entirely defined by a question at the heart of their relationship — in this case, the question being whether this system of matchmaking can ever really work, or whether projected selves and high expectations will always get in the way of honesty. Both Soni and Viswanathan hold their own on each side of the debate, and both offer solid comedic performances, but the chemistry between their characters often falters, and the vacuum setting leads to a screenplay that goes in unconvincing directions in a bid to try and get that chemistry back on track. The film never plunges to any depths that could truly be described as bad per se, but with no risk comes no reward, and accordingly 7 Days treads in shallow water, offering mostly superficial observations and never quite finding that spark that’s essential to any rom-com’s success.
Any review of 7 Days would be remiss not to mention the echoes of The Big Sick that permeate the film. When one of the pair is admitted to hospital with a severe case of Covid, pushing the other to interact with their family, it’s a classic third-act development, something to push the typical rom-com formula along rather than the entire premise of the film, and it isn’t executed with anywhere near as much grace as its predecessor. And given that so much of its strength comes in Soni and Viswanathan’s chemistry — when it’s working — the choice to separate them feels like one made out of necessity, to force a confrontation and to remind the audience of the quarantine gimmick. That the film relies so heavily on a recycled idea makes the third act of 7 Days distinctly underwhelming. It’s a distinctly weak ending to offer viewers, and leaves the film (and Viswanathan’s character in particular) feeling defanged, failing to elevate this promising, high-concept rom-com to the level of anything beyond merely nice.