Seven Days in Utopia

Starring: Lucas Black, Robert Duvall, Deborah Ann Woll, Joseph Lyle Taylor, Brian Gerahty, and more.

Directed by: Matthew Dean Russell Writing Credits: David Cook,  Rob Levine, Matthew Dean Russell, Sanda Thrift Based on the Book by: David Cook Original Music by: Klaus Badelt and Christopher Carmichael

Premise: After an emotional blow out an up and comer golfer makes a right turn at an intersection only to find himself in the town of Utopia and meeting the one man who might set him on the right path for his game and his life.

Review: When I first read the blurb on this film, it reminded me of Doc Hollywood (a long time favorite for me and my husband). So finding myself without hubby for movie night, I took a plunge and checked it out (hubby had no interest so it was open season!).

Actually filmed mostly out at Utopia, Texas there are some truly nice visuals of Texas flat lands and ranch homes. While golf is a major part of the story, you don’t have to be into the sport to watch the film, any bits not known by the audience explained here and there.

There are no major surprises in the film. Troubled man gets taken under the wing of an older mentor and shown a new way of seeing things. Troubled man comes to certain realizations and improves inside and out. What was actually innovative, in my opinion, were the ways the lessons were taught.  Every time Lucas thought he’d figured out how Johnny was going to teach him some new lesson about golf or life, it was never exactly as he expected. Some were almost brilliant.

You’ll find several familiar faces amongst the cast. Lucas Black did pretty well, especially at the very end. Robert Duvall, on the other hand, seemed a little lacking throughout – though there was one scene where he says absolutely nothing yet spoke volumes. Several of the side characters brought a lot of life and warmth to the film. Others were the normal cookie cutter types you usually expect, to add adversarial problems for the protagonist, though they did try to give them a little more depth than typical and even some changes.

Another nice thing were the flashes and flashbacks to what brought Luke Chisolm to the bad place he was at in the first place. For most of his years he’d been living the life forced upon him, not one he chose for himself. In many ways, he’s not lived at all.

The method they chose to use at the ending, I can’t say did them any favors. It’s an open ending, without letting you know the end result, which to me was a given, so no biggie. But worse, they then tantalize you with a website to get the final scoop –  A nice site, with a couple of nice videos by the author, David Cook, and the answer to the question. But at the theater, seeing the website on the screen left a bad taste in my mouth. It felt gimmicky.  Worse, the point about letting God into your life wasn’t really reached in the film in my mind. Felt tacked on. Yes, they showed Lucas how to live and be open to experiences, but the connection to faith, to God, felt like a stretch.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: N/A)