Portmanteau films like 7 Days in Havana are inherently inconsistent, but while the bundling together of multiple short films precludes coherency, done well, they offer other attractions. Unfortunately, 7 Days... isn’t done all that well.
Benicio del Toro’s opening segment is one of the better efforts (surprising, given he’s a debutant director amidst accomplished auteurs) - a charming but slight Cuban travelogue with a weak punchline, that it ranks among the highlights only emphasises the lack of spark elsewhere. Applause is also deserved for Pablo Trapero’s Emir Kusturica-starring instalment ‘Jam Session’ and Gaspar Noé’s ‘Ritual’ – a nightmarish, hallucinatory vision of a witch doctor at work, which adds a darker current to the ‘rum + sun’ vision on display elsewhere. But from the rest there’s coasting (a disappointingly flat offering from Elia Suleiman) and kitsch (Julio Médem’s melodramatic piece), while attempts to weave loose connecting threads are weakly realised. Consequently, 7 Days... remains significantly less than the sum of the talents involved.