7 Sins Forgiven was one of those strange serendipitous film festival screenings where you head for a screening, realise you’re going to get there too late and that the film you wanted to see isn’t even on at the place you’re headed to, so you have to pick something else at random.
This film won out, as I flicked through the guide on the U-bahn (the guide to Berlinale is helpfully organised by section, cinema then time but is singularly unhelpful if you want to know all the films on around 1pm on Saturday across all cinemas – useful for the organised, less so for the last minute reschedule) by being on at a cinema I was already heading towards and having English subtitles. My main criteria when faced with a dilemma between screenings is ‘am I likely to see this anywhere else, any time soon?’ Films in Hindi don’t turn up at either my local art house cinema (never-mind the multiplex) so I went in completely blind and really close to the front of a promisingly packed screening.
The film itself is wonderful. I mean the plot is clichéd, there’s melodrama practically seeping out of the film’s every pore and events take place that are so completely unlikely as to be laughable. However, what saves it from being a terrible movie is that the film itself is conscious of its own ridiculousness and isn’t afraid to play on it. There’s one particularly succinct inter-title that had the audience laughing aloud – possibly with relief that the film was doing it on purpose. It is really quite a funny film, not that you’d realise that from the opening of the film (trust me, bear with it, its not what you think, though definite trigger warning) while at the same time being almost a more serious, thoughtful version of So I Married an Axe Murderer. Despite Susannah being essentially the black widow cliché (there’s a moment with a tarantula, which I must admit is a bit much, even for a film with a literal pit of vipers) the film and the characters around her are really quite sympathetic towards her. All her husbands are pretty odious in the end and mostly deserve their fates. She has truly terrible taste in men – that her almost Oedipal relationship with the film’s narrator is pretty much the healthiest connection she forms is saying something – but her final fate is fitting and definitely a twist you won’t see coming.