Home Video Hovel- Seven Minutes in Heaven, by Rita Cannon
Omri Givon’s Seven Minutes In Heaven is about the things we can’t know – both the specific, practical things (What happened while I was blacked out?) and profound, ineffable things (Why do bad things happen? What happens to us when we die?) The best and worst things about the film are in keeping with that theme. Slow trickles of information, downright glacial placing, and a general feeling of having been stopped in your tracks by something you can’t understand are the qualities that make Seven Minutes In Heaven feel authentic and affecting, but they’re also to blame when the film drags or gets confusing.
Set in Israel, it follows a young woman named Galia (Reymond Amsalem) and her recovery from a suicide bombing, in which she was badly burned and her boyfriend Oren (Nadav Netz) was killed. Directly after the bombing, Galia went unconscious for a period of seven minutes, during which she was declared medically dead. Struggling to recover, both mentally and physically, a year after the incident, she receives a necklace in the mail from an anonymous source – the necklace she was wearing the day of the bombing. Who sent it to her, and why?
It’s around this point that the film pulls a bit of a bait-and-switch. Initially, Galia pours a lot of time and energy into solving the mystery of the necklace. But as soon as an answer starts to emerge – and once it does, it seems clear it’s the right one – she veers away from it, stubbornly ignoring obvious clues and instead throwing herself into a new relationship with Boaz (Eldad Fribas), a man she met in a suspiciously serendipitous way. The time Galia spends with Boaz is contrasted with her and Oren’s strained relationship, which we see in a handful of flashbacks and dream sequences. At first, it seems that guilt about the way she treated Oren must be the reason Galia is avoiding revisiting the day of his death. But Seven Minutes In Heaven then takes a sharp turn into the metaphysical, and everything we’ve seen up to that point gets thrown into question.
The film has a strong anchor in Amsalem’s performance, which puts across the wounded toughness that has gotten her through so much, but hinders her in critical ways. It also effectively portrays the paranoid atmosphere that engenders that toughness – Galia lives in a world so frequently rocked by violence that when she goes to a government office seeking information about the bombing, the woman she speaks with takes three guesses to place her at the right one. Questions about fate, mortality, and spirituality permeate the film. There are moments, most of them in the dream-like third act, when we’re not sure what’s real and what’s transpiring in Galia’s tortured imagination. It may seem petty to criticize a film with such heavy themes for getting confusing or having a vague ending. But there’s a fine line between avoiding pat answers and allowing the viewer to get completely lost, and Seven Minutes occasionally finds itself on the wrong side of that line. Still, the ideas it explores are compelling, and the mood it creates is indelible.