29 Aug 2006

Seven and a Match (2001)

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Yesterday evening, I caught a film, running on IFC, written and directed, by a more recent Yale graduate than most I know personally, Derek Simonds ’94, titled Seven and a Match.

It was a rather depressing Gen X-ers’ version of Big Chill, in which late 20’s friends from Yale re-unite at one of their group’s family home in Maine.

The hostess Ellie (Tina Holmes) is in bad shape. Her parents were killed in a car crash, leaving Ellie nothing but the house, whose taxes alone she cannot cover from her own income. Ellie used to work at a camp for disabled children. Driven to desperation, Ellie has gone into a tail-spin, losing her job, selling her house’s furniture to get by, and scheming to burn it down for the insurance. Her college friends have been invited to supply cover for the intended arson.

It’s one of those weekends: renewing old friendships and animosities, status insecurities, fear of commitment, drinking, infidelities abound. Two girls cheat on their down-market boyfriends, but decide they want them after all, when the boyfriends start to walk out.

I was finding the film depressing, until there came a great moment.

After dinner, the gang retires to the living room to chat. Ellie reveals her problems and her plan, and the friends are not eager to participate, so Ellie sulks off to bed. Before long, struggling actor Sid (Eion Bailey) and bad blonde Whit (Heather Donahue, best known for the Blair Witch Project) are left alone, pouring down shots, and reminiscing about old times. “I had sex with Blair in that very chair,” boasts Sid, adding details about glassware broken during moments of passion. Whit rises, dims the lights, and pats the chair by way of invitation.

When he sits down, she climbs into his lap, then pauses, and observes: “There is something I like to say on occasions like this.” …pause.. “It has become something of a tradition.” ….longer pause… and throwing back her head… “I’m really drunk!”

A line like that will make you forgive a lot in a movie.


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