‘7 Days’ is an Effective Rom-Com Reframing of the Pandemic’s Initial Onset

Grade: B

The subject of the pandemic is still a tricky one to tackle, given that partisan dipshittery and weaponized misinformation means it’s still very much going strong. While this seemingly unending pandemic continues to rage in pockets of the U.S. and over the world, there have been some interesting meditations on it that succeeded without the benefit of collective hindsight.

7 Days, which played earlier this month as part of the Nashville Film Festival, is one of those mediations. As the title implies, it’s set during that first week of quarantine and told as an unconventional rom-com, The script, written by Karan Soni and director Roshan Sethi, successfully captures the gamut of emotions that came about during that week of overwhelming uncertainty.

Soni also stars as Ravi, a young man from a traditional Indian family, who are determined to find him a future wife. As part of this revolving door of online meetups, Karan’s introduced to Rita, played by Geraldine Viswanathan. While she’s in a similar situation in terms of her family and their expectations of her, she’s considerably less enthused about these traditions.

As Karan and Rita meet up and have a profoundly mediocre first date, Ravi misses his train back home, and Rita lets him stay on his couch. The next morning, however, the announcement comes: the pandemic has taken hold, and everyone’s told to stay at home and quarantine. This means, of course, that Ravi and Rita are trapped together, and might be for some time.

Their clashing personalities are immediately at odds, and while it’s played a bit as an Odd Couple-esque mismatch, there’s an underlying anxiety to the whole thing. As the story (and the week) progresses, it’s impossible not to think back to that time in March of 2020, when the screens in our lives suddenly went from addiction to essential. All the other beats are there, particularly Ravi’s cringe-worthy recreation of the pot-banging salutes to essential workers shouted out of apartment windows.

Of course, all of Ravi’s pedantic rule-abiding clashes with Rita’s reflex for defiance, which leads to some impulsive behavior and a drama-ridden second act. There’s also a need for some suspension of disbelief as the drama is ramped up for the inevitable emotional payoff, but it’s a worthy tradeoff, considering the narrative ground the film aims to cover in its limited timeframe.

With a production schedule of only eight days during the summer of 2020, when the pandemic went from bad to worse, 7 Days succeeds as a perfect time capsule for that world-changing moment. But it’s the onscreen chemistry between Soni and Viswanathan that lets it succeed as an earnest, heartbreaking, uplifting rom-com set amid our real-life apocalypse.

7 Days is currently making the rounds on the festival circuit

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