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Tribeca Film Festival Review: Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan Shine in COVID Rom-Com ‘7 Days’

While the romantic comedy may have seemed like an antiquated genre to some, perhaps the reality is that it simply needed some fresh new voices to energize it again. 7 Days certainly makes this argument, as the dynamic trio of director/co-writer Roshan Sethi, co-writer/actor Karan Soni, and actress Geraldine Viswanathan bring a unique perspective to old rom-com tropes that makes it feel new and exciting. Set at the start of the COVID pandemic in the United States, Ravi (Soni) and Rita (Viswanathan) are set up on a date by their old-fashioned Indian parents with the idea of an arranged marriage in mind. The two have an inoffensive but uncomfortable time together, Ravi’s awkwardness coming off more unappealing than endearing to Rita, who is politely getting through it. Things get complicated, however, when the swiftness by which the U.S. went into lockdown forces the two to cohabitate for an extended period of time in Rita’s home. 

Soon enough, Ravi discovers that Rita is not the prim and proper woman that everyone in their families believes her to be. She eats meat, drinks alcohol, and even masturbates! Whatever will Ravi do? The charm of 7 Days is in the way that it takes the classic dilemmas of the rom-com genre and turns them into culturally specific notes that manage to cross cultures into something more universal. We all know the experience of finding out that someone isn’t who we thought they were. Many of us also know the experience of having a date go sour due to someone who had unreasonable expectations and a certain box they wanted us to fit in before they even met us. Sethi and Soni’s script takes the specific and makes it universal in a delightful way that demonstrates how much cultures can all have in common. 

This is a refreshing take to have for a film that ultimately does center on the idea and complications of arranged marriage. For Western audiences, misconceptions about arranged marriage have historically led to it being portrayed as cruel and unusual. For those who practice it, they face the same ebbs and flows of a relationship as any other culture does. 7 Days confronts the ingrained ridiculousness of judging the practices of other cultures by allowing us to see that this couple faces the same kind of dilemmas that everyone else does, and they bond through it the way that all of our favorite rom-com couples have. 

Soni and Viswanathan are two actors who have been delivering quality performances across a range of projects over the past decade. Soni led one of the standout episodes of the HBO anthology series Room 104 (produced by Mark Duplass, also a producer here), along with being a scene-stealer in the Deadpool films. Viswanathan was a force of nature as one of the teens in Blockers before taking on even bigger roles as the leads in HalaBad Education, and The Broken Hearts Gallery in the last few years. The duo have also been among the main cast of the TBS anthology series Miracle Workers. They’re both at the top of their games here, demanding attention from studios to give these two more projects that allow them to be as sharp and hilarious as this. 

As is the case with any romantic comedy, 7 Days lives or dies on the strength of its leading couple. That is especially the case here, with a cast that consists of the two of them and not a single other soul. Thankfully, they are more than up to the task. While the themes and specific details of the film give the audienceplenty to think about and appreciate after it’s over, your first reaction is inevitably centered on the sheer charm of watching these two fantastic actors interact with one another and develop this relationship. It’s impossible not to fall for the two of them, even as Ravi may start off a bit annoying and Rita somewhat harsh. The bond they form feels so organic that you don’t even realize yourself slipping into an emotional investment that Sethi and Soni make good use out of when things hit more dramatic, potentially life-altering circumstances in the second half of the film. 

The way that the emotional strength of the film sneaks up on you is a testament to how smoothly this trio draws you into this relationship and the world that they’ve created inside this little home. Set almost entirely in the one location, it’s remarkable that the movie ends with you wishing you could have more time inside with Ravi and Rita. The way that the dramatic angle kicks in from a plot perspective might feel a little too difficult for some given its topicality, and it will be interesting to see how it ages. Like a lot of COVID-set films, it feels as though it may be too soon to go to the places where this film goes, and if anything holds it back it would be that. Truly though, it’s an unfortunate hiccup that can’t wear off the shine too much from an endlessly charming rom-com that’s among the best the genre has seen in a very, very long time. 

SCORE: ★

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Written by Mitchell Beaupre

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