Friday, September 2, 2011

Movie with Abe: Seven Days in Utopia

Seven Days in Utopia
Directed by Matt Russell
Released September 2, 2011

Sports movies are almost always about one particular athlete’s struggle to get back in their game. What sport it is can be often unimportant, while the themes of patience, perseverance, and redemption are usually present. “Seven Days in Utopia” is the prototypical example of this, showcasing one particularly meaningful week in the life of disgraced golfer Luke Chisholm (Lucas Black) as he visits a small Texas town and finds himself once again with the help of Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall). It’s an extremely simplistic and straightforward story that doesn’t do much to distinguish itself or enthrall its viewers.

Black and Duvall star in the film

“Seven Days in Utopia,” for all its faults, is a film laced with authenticity. Though fictional, the story is set in the real town of Utopia, which all its stars describe as an absolutely beautiful location. David L. Cook, who penned the novel on which the film is based, is well-versed in golf and is a recognized expert in sport psychology. Actor Lucas Black was selected because of his real-life golf experience, since it was important that he truly understood the art of golf in order to properly portray the character. Duvall describes himself as being “well-liked” in Texas, so his involvement in the film was a stroke of good fortune for those behind it.

Duvall and Black discuss the film

This is the third collaboration between Black and Duvall, following Black’s second feature film role in “Sling Blade” and 2010’s “Get Low.” It’s easy to see how well they get along on screen, and they effectively convey the gradual formation of a friendship. The cast also includes Melissa Leo, Deborah Ann Woll (“True Blood”) and Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker”) as residents of Utopia who offer help to Luke as he adjusts to this new place. The cast is able enough and performs as well as can be expected given the material.

Leo discusses the film

What’s sorely missing in “Seven Days in Utopia” is any sort of true conflict. The film offers many flashbacks early on, repeating them again and again, to explain Luke’s troubled relationship with his victory-obsessed caddy father. Aside from that, however, Luke has a surprisingly easy time adjusting to life in Utopia and never really struggles to overcome any hurdles. Obstacles quickly become friendly, and the film understandably boasts a G rating since it contains nothing objectionable. It peaks in its third act as the film focuses on the gold, but a quick switch back to religious narration immediately bursts that bubble, returning it to the status of a film that’s truly far too hard to be overly inspirational.


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