Despite being a parable with heavy religious overtones Seven Days in Utopia stands alone as solid movie making. That’s not to say that a heaping teaspoon of sugar won’t be needed to swallow the good-folk, God-fearing backbone of the film’s narrative. Robert Duvall plays a kind of Zen master of golf, part Yoda, part Mr. Miyagi, and then eventually part preacher, all in his inimitable Duvall way.
Lucas Black finds himself stranded in Utopia, Texas with a broken down car. Black has just lost his cool at a golf tournament and his subsequent auto accident provides a blessing in disguise as Duvall takes the amateur under his wing to make him a pro. Melissa Leo and Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood) are some of the townsfolk.
SDIU was lensed in Fredericksburg and Utopia and the production values are solid. The film actually ends on a cliffhanger and poses a philosophical question that I felt was more refreshing than to show Black making the putt. Interestingly Texas lends itself to films about golf as in Ron Shelton’s Tin Cup, or an indie film by Michael Hovis from the 90s, The Man With the Perfect Swing.
Duvall gives Black golf lessons each day he’s stranded in Utopia, but instead of actually playing the game he teaches the young man lessons in humility and perception. That’s where Utopia becomes Karate Kid as Black shows up with his clubs and Duvall hands him a paintbrush and they proceed to paint a picture of how to drive a ball caught behind a tree to the green. Seven Days in Utopia will please sports fans easily enough, but it’s biggest draw with be the religious crowd that will heartily embrace its not so subliminal message.
– Michael Bergeron