I'm sorry, but I just can't but think of "Five Minutes of Heaven" when I see this film's title, because even though this film is 24 years older, it's somehow more forgotten than some 90-minute-long Irish drama that they had to present in most every media form as quickly as possible in order to make a profit. Now that's forgotten, but then again, that film is probably made a little more memorable by its starring Liam Neeson, who could make the actual "Seven Minutes in Heaven" party game exciting, or at least about as exciting as "ris-kay" games for teenagers can get. I don't know, that standard might be pretty high, because, speaking of films that came out long after this one, "Requiem for a Drama" taught us that Jennifer Connelly can get into some seriously dirty deeds done dirt cheap. It's kind of a messed up thing to evoke when talking about a "teen" film that Connelly did when she was "13", but hey, that's what Connelly gets for going on to grow up a touch too much, and besides, 1985 for 13-year-old little Connelly started out with "Phenomena", which was pretty messed up... I think. Yeah, speaking of forgettable films, that was one mediocre "thriller", but hey, it couldn't have been too much less exciting than this film, because I'm having so much trouble trying to find material associated with this film that's interesting enough for a hook to this article that I evoked some Irish film from 2009 that has nothing to do with a film like this, outside of having a similar title. Like I said, teenagers' party games, "ris-kay" or not, aren't especially interesting, or at least not enough so for a film that's not really about the games. Yeah, not a whole lot goes on in this bland little opus, but it's mainly natural shortcomings that ruin this film, which could be worse, and even has some strengths, emphasis on "some".
I must admit, I'm making quite the stretch to something to compliment by complimenting this film's soundtrack, as it's all too often quite cheesy, particularly when it tries to crowbar in some kind of a quick line amidst aimless instrumentals (Okay, we get it, random lady who keeps blurting out numbers, the leads are 15!), and yet, it livens things up with a certain perkiness, though perhaps not as much as the notches in Jane Bernstein's and Linda Feferman's script that aren't, well, tremendously bland. There's nothing really special about Bernstein's and Feferman's writing on the whole, but it does, in fact, have highlights that help greatly in bringing the final product close to decency, offering characterization that may be seriously undercooked and formulaic, but is relatively successful in capturing the essence of the teen characters and their bland story, occasionally livened up by cute humor. The writing is hit-or-miss, but its hits are commendable, and just that can be said about Feferman's direction, which is generally limp, to be sure, but keeps overwhelming blandness from descending into overwhelming dullness with a certain consistent liveliness, sustained by, if nothing else, charm. Granted, charm isn't going to be enough to save this messy, but it never abates, and I give this film a lot of credit for its cuteness, - even if it can't battle back mediocrity - as surely as I give the performers a lot of credit for trying to keep the charm up. Sure, there's absolutely nothing for this colorful cast to work with, but so help them, they try, offering both colorful chemistry and endearing charm that may not be enough to flavor up the intrigue in their characters all that much, but help soften the blows of blandness that ultimately triumph. This is not a very interesting film by any means, but it tries, and while it does not succeed in achieving decency, it comes startlingly close on the backs of highlights in writing and direction, and a consistency in decency in the performances and chemistry. Sadly, when it's all said and done, the film falls flat, being borderline decent, but unable to overpower the blandness that it would have stood a chance against if it was at least more even.
The film's "plot", such as it is, juggles several barely consequential narratives that are hardly interesting by their own right, and whose limitations in engagement value are made all the greater by focal unevenness, because even though the several stories bond closely in a lot of ways, the film still takes plenty of opportunities to jar when it jumps between its layers, whose uneven presentation results in a narrative inconsistency, settled primarily by a consistency in conventionalism. I'm certainly not asking for too unique of a coming-of-age teen film of this nature, because there really is only so much that you can do with this kind of a story, yet I cannot fully forgive the film for being, not simply generic, but trite, having hardly anything new to say, and making matters worse by telling its age-old tale rather blandly. As I said earlier, director Linda Feferman keeps consistent in enough liveliness, or at least enough charm, to keep all-out dullness at bay, and that's impressive when you consider how the film's story concept was never to be made all that lively, but man, the girl doesn't exactly do too much to settle blandness before atmosphere cold spells come in, slowing down momentum to a limp, even distancing drag. I can give Feferman some credit for what she does right, but highlights are few and far between, and are bridged by long, long periods of limitations in storytelling assurance that chill momentum into utter cold aimlessness, which would be easier to forgive if the film wasn't bland enough on paper. Really, there's not a whole lot to complain about when it comes to this film, so for all extents and purposes, the final product stops at neutral and stands at decent, but natural shortcomings are overwhelming, as this character dramedy is not simply seriously limited in development, but seriously limited in meat, being a slice of teen life whose conflicts and depth are too thin to be intriguing, at least to me. Maybe it's an age thing, because this is very much a teen film, and I can see teens relating to this fairly realist comedy-"drama", but then again, I can see teens buying into a lot of bull, and sure enough, no matter how cute or harmless, maybe even thematically important this film may be, storytelling falls flat under the weight of natural shortcomings. It may be a bit shallow to say that it's natural shortcomings that make the final product mediocre, and sure, flaws are limited enough, and strengths stand firmly enough, for decency to almost be achieved, but make no mistake, there wasn't enough evenness, intrigue or conceptual meat here to keep me going, and mold a slightly memorable teen flick.
When the seven minutes are up (As short as this film is, it may as well actually be seven minutes long), the final product emerges with enough perky score work, clever writing, charming direction and strong acting to border on decent, but when it's all said and done, focally uneven, generic and atmospherically limp storytelling exacerbate the blandness of a meatless, aimless and all around thoroughly forgettable story that nudges "Seven Minutes in Heaven" into mediocrity, albeit by a hair, but deep into underwhelmingness nevertheless.
2.25/5 - Mediocre