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Review: The Seven Days

A dance of pent-up tension
By ALEXIS HAUK  |  April 1, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for The Seven Days

In Jewish tradition, Shiva is a seven-day mourning period observed after a loved one's funeral. Israeli filmmakers Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz not only wrote and directed this tale of grief, they turned it into a dance of pent-up tension.

The black-clad Jewish/Moroccan/Israeli family members ebb and flow, clustering in groups, spinning in circles, gathering and splitting apart. The dialogue, which switches between French and Hebrew, conveys only half the meaning that a glance or gesture can — from lighting a cigarette to pouring tea.

As the characters sleep, gossip, grow bored, cry, and eat together, the layers of betrayal, jealousy and mistrust peel away — it's everyone's worst Thanksgiving with extra helpings. Evelin Hagoel in particular brings tenderness and humor to the unmarried sister surrounded by unhappy marriages. Meanwhile, the First Gulf War rages, so the silences are broken every now and then by sirens that send the family scrambling for gas masks.

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