Seven Pounds (2008)
Seven Pounds (2008)

Genre: Drama Running Time: 2 hrs. 3 min.

Release Date: December 19th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Gabriele Muccino Actors: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper, Elpidia Carrillo, Robinne Lee, Sarah Jane Morris, Madison Pettis

 


 

“S

even Pounds” employs a mixed tactic of misdirection, surprise, and a little confusion, as the film jumps around on the timeline and waits to provide an explanation until almost halfway through. The basic course the film heads down can be guessed earlier on, though it’s careful not to succumb to over-predictability. Director Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) has again crafted an emotionally engaging work of love, guilt, sacrifice, and retribution, with Will Smith in the lead to deliver another powerfully triumphant performance. Mixing an intricate drama with delicate romance and a compelling plan for redemption, “Seven Pounds” could easily be the feel-good movie of the year – if only it wasn’t so depressing in its approach to salvation.

Tormented by his past, IRS agent Ben Thomas (Will Smith) sets out on a mission of atonement to drastically change the lives of seven complete strangers. But as his plans are slowly put into motion, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a young woman whose heart condition finds her prematurely facing the tragic fragility of life. In turn, Ben must come to terms with his own mortality and his dire plan for conquering his swelling guilt.

Although the idea behind “Seven Pounds” has loose Shakespearean references (see “The Merchant of Venice”), seven is too high a number for a two-hour film. It calls for excessive characters, few of which receive adequate screentime (or perhaps, they purposefully aid in the topsy-turviness) and decreases the realism of the plot. The secret behind the film is so important to its success that the trailers, teasers, poster artwork, and other advertising materials are all shrouded with mystery – and as the film unravels, the audience is kept in the dark for as long as possible. It’s a novel idea, but ultimately faces two possible routes to failure: the viewer will get irritated at being kept out of the loop for so long, or the conclusion (which suffers from absurdity under hindsight scrutiny) won’t live up to the anticipation. What saves the whole thing is Will Smith, who remains just interesting enough that the mind-boggling narrative progression is largely forgivable.

Rejoining director Gabriele Muccino for another serious, grounded, human role is an appropriate choice for Smith; during the last few years, he’s tried his luck with almost every genre, but he seems to find greater artistic prosperity with dramatic personas. The script isn’t all that clever, but Smith is able to add enough wonderment to Ben that the anticipation (and maybe impatience) builds with surety. And Rosario Dawson also delivers one of her finer performances. The remaining supporting characters, however, add little to the intensity of Smith’s part or the overall plot, as many are shown with significant resolutions that don’t match their limited appearances. But, in the end, enjoying “Seven Pounds” chiefly rests on Smith’s onscreen bravura.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10