26 April 2005 | RackOutOfFocus
Better than I expected
I can't say I "liked" this film, yet I can say it was better than I expected. Actress/Director Asia Argento is both the best and worst thing about this film. As director, she presented a story that had flow and made sense, and made a couple of very good choices as to when to use surrealistic and stunt casting tricks in service of the story. She also got excellent performances out of the cast generally. Except...
as an actress, she kept taking me out of the scene. If your reaction is the same as mine, just tune her acting out and let the story unfold.
I would also say that JT Leroy, writer of the prose on which this film is based, was involved in the production. Via letter, he introduced the film at various film festivals. The claim that this is a true story, that this is "my life" that Leroy makes, tends to inoculate the film from a lot of criticism. How can anybody say "the ending wasn't much of an ending" or "the mom was really over-the-top" if the person who lived the story says the movie is "true". In other words, a movie has to have its own truth, whether the story it tells is true or not. And I guess I think this is "7" because for all it's flaws (Argento's acting, skips in time that leave characters undeveloped, and a general lack of roundness to the characters that really could have been fixed), the movie did seem to find it's own truth.
For that I credit director Argento, young actors Jimmy Bennett, Dylan Sprouse and Cole Sprouse (who knew the Sprouse twins could act? Very well done), sharp (if stereotypical) cameo turns by Peter Fonda, Winona Ryder, & Ornella Muti (whom I took to be Lena Olin). Also props to John Robinson, who played Jeremiah's teenaged uncle -- an underused character in the film. Except I can't say that because this movie is a "true story". See? That's frustrating.
Oh, the content is strong, this is not for kids, and a LOT of adults will need to quit watching at some point. But it is overall worth the effort, if you have a strong stomach and can control your rage at the awfulness of the life depicted.