7 Years refers to the number of years that Vincent (Bruno Todeschini) is incarcerated in prison for a crime that isn't fully explained. And this film, written and directed by Jean-Pascal Hattu, allowed for a sneak peek into what could possibly be a non maximum-security prison, where inmates can be visited by their loved ones every week, and be up close and personal with them without the need for a plexi-glass in between. Such provision provides better interaction, and for his wife Maitre (Valerie Donzelli), it allowed for some physical intimacy when the wardens aren't looking.
Being separated by the law does put an unnatural strain in the relationship of husband and wife, though Maitre highlights her dutifulness in consistently visiting Vincent, and even attempts to smuggle him some drugs and anything he wishes for, in order to let him know she's there for him, and will abide by his instructions. However, life without her loved one does get boring, as we see her taking driving lessons, and hanging out with her best pal and looking after her child even.
Things start to go a little strange when she meets Jean (Cyril Troley) outside the prison, and begin to satisfy her lust. They meet regularly for trysts in his car, and one can imagine her surprise when it's revealed that Jean is actually a warden in the same prison that Vincent is serving time, and her husband has been receiving privileges. Thus begs the question whether her illicit relationship is fueling Vincent's easier life inside his cell, and whether welfare for Vincent would be degraded if she were to stop seeing Jean. It's entering some power play territory where sex is the commodity used as barter for another's welfare.
And Hattu's story goes one step further actually, in having Jean play the conduit between Maitre and Vincent, at times even suggesting that he might be a bisexual since Jean and Vincent's time together has nothing short of lingering looks filled with hidden secrets. Which of course brings to mind the recent storyline in Korean film A Frozen Flower, involving the obeying instructions of one's lover, to lay with someone else, as a means to some ends as intended. Needless to say there are numerous sex scenes in the film, but they happen to be more mechanical rather than with emotion since it's used as a tool to fulfill desperate desires.
While the three leads put in excellent performances, ultimately they were let down by Hattu's story when it fizzled rather than sizzled toward the end, allowing the story to just fall apart without any clear resolution, leaving things rather hanging in the air.