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MOVIE REVIEW

'7 Días,' a week's worth of trouble

Fernando Kalife's debut lacks the emotional anchor of other Mexican cinema.

August 17, 2007|Mark Olsen | Special to The Times

Claudio Caballero, an ambitious young concert promoter, uses his girlfriend's money to place a bet on a soccer game in the hopes of funding his dream to bring a U2 concert to his town. When he loses the bet, and his plan to rip-off the bookies goes awry, he is given seven days to make the concert happen or else. Such is the story of "7 Días," the disappointingly flat debut feature from Mexican writer and director Fernando Kalife.

Considering how much adventurous filmmaking has been coming out of Mexico in recent years -- not only from the award-winning "three amigos," Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón, but also less well-known names such as Carlos Reygadas and Fernando Eimbcke -- it is discouraging that the style of "7 Días" is so conventional and that it is so purposefully lightweight, lacking the deeper, probing feelings of the best of contemporary Mexican cinema.

Claudio's scheme is so preposterous from the start -- betting someone else's money -- that it makes his eventual predicament a less effective emotional anchor for the action. In the main role, actor Eduardo Arroyuelo simply doesn't have enough to work with to make the character worth watching or caring about. As Tony, the mobster muscle who turns out to be both savvier and more useful than he at first appears, actor Jaime Camil hits the right, lightly comic and ever-so-slightly over-the-top notes. It is something one wishes Kalife had coaxed from more of his cast, and when Camil is not on-screen he is sorely missed.

The film's media notes make much of Kalife's ability to secure the rights to music and concert footage of U2. That story -- a jet-setting saga that sounds more engaging than the film itself -- involves family connections, a rented villa, a friend of a friend, Naomi Campbell and, of course, Bono. Obsessive U2 fans should be forewarned, however, that the only song by the group actually featured in the film is a partial version of a middling live rendition of the recent album cut "Miracle Drug."

"7 Días." MPAA rating: PG-13 for language, sexual references, brief drug use and some violent content. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. In selected theaters.

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