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SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS

by: Scott Renshaw

All right, let's get something out of the way here: Anne Heche is a lesbian. Coverage of Six Days, Seven Nights has focused so heavily on this point - and the corollary question of whether Heche would be "credible" as a heterosexual romantic interest - that you might suspect the title had been changed officially to Six Days, Seven Nights with Lesbian Anne Heche Playing a Heterosexual. Never mind that audiences didn't seem to have a problem finding heterosexual actor Tom Hanks "credible" as a gay man in Philadelphia. Never mind that presumably a different 29-year-old woman would be considered more "credible" as a romantic interest for 55-year-old Harrison Ford. And never mind that most Hollywood scripts consider a "credible" romance any pairing of actors of the opposite sex, character development be damned.

Six Days, Seven Nights is an unsatisfying Hollywood trifle, not because Anne Heche doesn't date men, but because the script is a disaster. Heche plays Robin Monroe, a New York magazine editor whisked away to a week-long tropical vacation by her long-time boyfriend Frank (David Schwimmer) so he can pop the question. Unfortunately, work intrudes on paradise, forcing Robin to hop a cargo plane with rough-around-the-edges pilot Quinn Harris (Harrison Ford) for a photo shoot in Tahiti. En route the plane is caught in a violent storm, and forced down on a deserted island.

Naturally, Quinn and Robin are polar opposites who share an almost instant antagonism. Naturally, they grow closer as they struggle together for their survival. There's just one thing missing from this interaction: the faintest understanding of Robin's motivation for getting involved with Quinn. Screenwriter Michael Browning presents Robin and Frank's relationship as nearly ideal during their screen time together, with Frank practically a fantasy figure out of the women's magazine Robin works for - he's romantic, spontaneous and willing to commit. That leaves Robin's reasons for leaping into Quinn's arms fairly suspect; though Quinn assures her late in the film that their connection isn't just "something that happens when two people are alone on an island together," that's the only explanation which doesn't make Robin's behavior rather sleazy. Even the attempt to make Frank part of the problem is ill-conceived, tossing him into a drunken, grief-stricken tryst with a voluptuous dancer (Jacqueline Obradors) after he believed Robin to be dead. It's not chemistry that's missing in the relationship between Robin and Quinn - it's sympathy.

In a valiant attempt to distract the audience from focusing on the characters, Browning and director Ivan Reitman amp up the action quotient by pitting our protagonists against pirates. Yes, that's right, pirates. It's the kind of sub-plot which sends the mind reeling into hypothetical suggestions offered by "helpful" studio executives: "You know, it's great that they're stuck on this island together so they can fall in love, but we're not sure about this whole lesbian thing, so how about if pirates chased them, and shot at them, and then at the end there was a big explosion?" For a film desperately in need of more character development, Six Days, Seven Nights wastes valuable minutes on a ridiculous forced conflict which contributes nothing to the story but an amusing gag from Heche: "You mean 'arrrghh' pirates?"

Six Days, Seven Nights actually contains a few amusing gags, with both Heche and Ford - long under-appreciated for his comic timing - scoring some comic hits. They just have almost nothing to work with, squirming around with absurd situations and stick-figure characters. The film's few simple pleasures, including the lovely scenery, are lost in the search for some reason to root for these people ending up together. There's nothing "credible" about the pairing of Robin and Quinn, and that

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