Seven Days in Utopia: Life is Never the Same Once You’ve Been to Utopia (2011)

Posted: July 26, 2012 in Drama, Sport

Though he is an aspiring golfer, Luke Chisholm’s world gets rocked when he experiences trouble at the end of one of his tournaments, leading him to a complete meltdown. Taking some time to get away, he heads towards a town called Utopia but gets into an accident while trying to avoid hitting a steer. Taken in by one of the locals, Luke gets to know Johnny Crawford, who offers to help him with his game. Luke is surprised by his knowledge and gives him a chance. Though his methods are untraditional, Johnny takes Luke through a series of challenges that test his abilities and cause him to think differently about what is important in life. While working on his game, he starts to develop a relationship with local Sarah, as long as he can get past the other local boys who are overly protective of her.

Starring: Lucas Black (Luke Chisholm), Robert Duvall (Johnny Crawford), Melissa Leo (Lily), Sarah Jayne Jensen (Maggie Swanson), Joseph Lyle Taylor (Martin Chisholm), KJ Choi (T.K. Oh), Deborah Ann Woll (Sarah), Sally Vahle (Mary Chisholm), Jerry Ferrara (Joe Buckner), Josh Painting (Duane)

With the greatest focus of the film being focused on Lucas Black and Robert Duvall, there is little room for some of the other stars to truly make a mark. Even Academy Award winner Melissa Leo fades into the background with limited screen time and and role that does not provide enough of a platform for her to project. Still, Duvall pulls together one of his classic calm-minded, inspirational performances as his character strives to guide the misdirected youthful talent. Lucas Black exhibits the meltdown at the start of the movie and has a moment or two of weakness of character throughout the story, but Black is able to keep his character’s persona fairly level in order to allow for the moral and Christian overtones to shine through.

  

Matt Russell’s film is one that explores the recovery of a young golfer in a struggle with his love of the game. Though the game had been driven into him by his father, Luke felt he had jumped to the pro circuit too soon. His meltdown was proof of his frustration with his father’s strong influence and him finally trying to make his own decisions. This anger led him to driving off and getting stranded in the small town of Utopia, where he catches the attention of a new father figure who wants to re-inspire his love for golf but in the context of something greater. Through a number of unconventional means (fly fishing for control, washer tossing for putting and flying an airplane for handling the unexpected), Luke is able to pull himself back together. But it is actually the combination of Johnny’s attention and Sarah’s warmth that helps him realize there is more to life than playing golf, and realizing that can help him put things in perspective when out on the course.

  

This concept of perspective is the main theme of the film, particularly through many subtle and overt Christian elements. Scenes in places like the graveyard, the church and the dinner table help to create a more visual foundation for Luke’s return to calm and focus. All of the tests that Johnny puts him through have more subtle elements of perspective and are meant to eventually open up Luke’s commitment to his faith and put himself in perspective of God. Oddly enough (though not necessarily as overtly religious), similar themes can be seen in other films, such as Disney’s and Pixar’s Cars.

In total, the film is entertaining, has a good flow and likable characters, but there is nothing truly special about this story compared to similar ones. The film is also toned down significantly in the intensity of the Christian themes, which may make it more broadly accepted but less true to the original story.

Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5

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