Dave Heeley’s story of running seven marathons in seven days – in spite of not being able to see – is told in this new film.
Director: Dominic and Ian Higgins
Cast: Jack Lane, Sarah Manners
Release date: Spring 2019
Reviewer: Johnny Cee
“You must be out of your tree!” Such is Debbie Heeley’s reaction, when her husband ‘Blind’ Dave announces he’s going to run ‘The Sevens’ for a guide dog charity. And can you blame her? The Sevens involves finishing seven marathons. On seven continents. In – yep, you’ve got it – seven days. Only two people had cracked it before. One was ex-SAS officer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Neither was blind.
Directed by Dominic and Ian Higgins, this warm and unpretentious short film follows the true story of Heeley’s remarkable adventure. Through convincing flashbacks, we learn how failing vision scuppered his early Olympic dreams. We discover why Heeley took up distance running again in later life, and explore the strong relationships that made his recordbreaking attempt possible. Heeley comes over as funny, down to earth, and tougher than teak. “Life goes on” is the Black Country man’s philosophy.
Jack Lane is pitch perfect in the lead role, and Sarah Manners as Debbie is superb. Likewise, the scenes with young Dave (Charlie Boswell) and his blind grandfather (Larry Rew) are particular highlights. The film handles its big themes honestly and with humour. Going blind is clearly a horrible business, and endurance running isn’t for the faint-hearted, either. Toenails bleed and blisters squelch, while muscles cramp and tempers fray. Chariots Of Fire, gentle reader, it isn’t.
If each marathon had been filmed on location, would the film have felt more powerful still? Of course. And the instrumental score could do with toning down a touch at times. But everyone involved has done their best to stretch their small budget to the limits. This is a genuine community effort, and for that it deserves our applause.
To sum up, you’ll struggle to find a more authentic and uplifting story at your local cinema in 2019. This inspiring 45-minute film could work wonderfully as a springboard for a longer, bigger budget feature – and one I’d gladly queue to see. It may even encourage you to start chasing some ambitions of your own. Now, where are my running shoes?