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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

eFilmcritic Archive: "7 Dias" (2006)

The story behind the Mexican import “7 Dias” is so simple and seems so by-the-numbers that I wonder if it will really resonate with anyone outside of the die-hard camp of U2 fans. It’s a nice movie, a breeze to sit through and it probably won’t get under your skin too much. But I think I may have sat all the way through it for the curiosity factor: will my favorite band make an appearance anywhere in this film? At first, it appears that the movie doesn’t have the financial backing for such a feat and that any other band or artist could be inserted into the storyline, provided it’s a band that commands at least $100 a ticket (Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, etc.). In this instance, it’s hard for me to separate the film critic from the U2 fan. I tend to take both seriously.

So, on with the movie review portion. The story starts out with Claudio (Eduardo Arroyuelo), a young concert promoter, who comes up with a scheme to get U2—“the best band in the world”—to play in his town. He borrows $500,000 from his girlfriend to bet on a soccer team against some gangster thugs. While they aren’t looking, he slips the money out of the room for safe keeping. When his team loses (by one point, of course) and the money is discovered missing, Claudio finds himself with four guns pointed to his head. Under his breath, he mumbles, “No more U2,” which perks the interest of Tony (Jaime Camil), one of the men holding a gun.

Tony convinces his father and the other men not to shoot Claudio, but to give him seven days to book U2 in their town. Claudio now has to use every resource he can to raise money from several investors. Meanwhile, another promoter is bidding for the chance to book U2, which complicates matters even further. Most of the movie consists of Tony and Claudio developing a friendship while trying to convince investors that their money can be quadrupled if they invest in the U2 concert. It’s a race against time as Claudio receives daily visits from the gun-toting thugs reminding him that his days are numbered.

The friendship between Claudio and Tony seems to be the heart of the movie, but it never becomes clear why this band means so much to them. Tony drives around with a U2 “altar” on his dashboard consisting of U2 bobble-head dolls, to which he prays to “Saint Bono.” But Claudio never mentions why U2 has become his obsession, though it could be argued that he just wants to follow in his late brother’s footsteps (also a concert promoter) by booking the world’s biggest rock band. A conversation between Tony and Claudio about the meaning of U2’s music in their lives would have added a great deal of dimension to their friendship.

The movie is not quite a comedy as its premise might suggest. It’s featherweight material that wears thin after awhile, but the performances and screenplay are sincere enough that you can almost forgive it for also being a little too maudlin toward the end (Do we really need to see repeating shots of Claudio with a bottle of liquor in his hand after he loses a deal?). In the end, writer-director Fernando Kalife’s debut film is not about fan-dom, but about brotherhood and friendship. It’s a predictable film, but an interesting departure from most other movies that come to the States from Mexico, in that it could carry a PG rating.

But what’s in it for U2 fans? (This might be considered a spoiler section for some of you) At first, it looks as though the movie will stick to name-dropping only. The music cues certainly sound inspired by the quartet, particularly Mullen’s rhythms and Edge’s chiming guitar. You can even hear a couple songs in the background that sound like a band trying to do the best U2 imitation they can. There is also a rather amusing scene near the beginning when we see a press conference promoting the fact that U2 will be coming to Mexico City for their 2004 Tour, during which a reporter comments that the last time U2 played here, an outbreak of violence occurred (that’s news to me). But the big payoff comes for us fans at the end (spoilers!) where, for the film’s coda, the song “Miracle Drug” gets played as the film cuts between Claudio’s story and footage from the Boston 2001 Elevation Tour DVD.

Why “Miracle Drug” gets used is as much a mystery to me as it will be to you. Also, even though the film takes place in Mexico, the mystery behind the opening lyrics to “Vertigo”—“Uno, dos, tres, catorce”—never comes to light. Think of the debate these two characters could have had!

I’m sure Kalife is a fan and probably didn’t want to alienate the audience by dropping in obscure song references. To his credit, he certainly resisted the temptation to be self-indulgent. U2 fans will no doubt check this film out just to see their band being depicted as the catalyst for so much trouble, much in the same way we made Phil Joanou’s “Entropy” and Wim Wender’s “Million Dollar Hotel” more popular than they normally would have been (both films still residing in relative obscurity). As for anyone else, I wish I could honestly say. It’s certainly not a bad film, but one that could have benefited from some surprises to help make it stand out even more from the usual, gritty offerings of Mexican cinema, but I guess the fact that U2 turns up at all is a bit of a nice surprise in and of itself.

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