, the first feature film from TV writer Grant Nieporte, is one of the most difficult movies to dissect and review. The film's whats, whys, and hows are impossible to discuss without giving away too much. Even the trailer is as generic as possible. Cutting that preview piece together must have been pure torture. Seven Pounds
' trailer basically shows the film is a Will Smith
movie, something terrible happens, and he has to do something with seven strangers. If it weren't for the fact box office champ Smith's seen throughout the trailer, there'd be nothing at all to sell this to potential ticket buyers.
Surprisingly, it doesn't actually take that long for the film itself to spell out its secrets if you're paying attention. The first 30 minutes or so are all you need to watch to know where the plot's going. And where it takes you is someplace dark and deep and, depending on your state of mind, that place is either extremely depressing or life-affirming. It's a unique film that can garner such diverse reactions, and Seven Pounds
is most definitely a strange bird.
One thing that can be said without fear of spoiling the experiencing is that it's not a typical Will Smith film in any way, shape or form. If you're expecting the summer box office king in just a slightly less sunny state, you'll be sorely disappointed. Seven Pounds makes Smith's most dramatic role to date - The Pursuit of Happyness which was also directed by Seven Pounds helmer Gabriele Muccino - seem as carefree as a day spent at Disneyland.
Rosario Dawson as Emily in 'Seven Pounds.'
© Columbia Pictures
The Story A Bare Bones Synopsis
The film opens with Ben (Smith) calling 911 to announce his own death by means of suicide. The method of his planned demise is so exotic it's going to be the one thing you'll always remember about Seven Pounds
long after the plot fades from mind. Ben's obviously in intense emotional pain as he makes the call, and soon we find out what's made him so deeply depressed.
Seven Pounds unfolds in nonlinear form, with Ben calling strangers, visiting hospitals, and meeting people by flashing his IRS badge as entry into private homes and hospital rooms. As he checks off names on his 'candidates' list, it becomes clear there's something about each of these strangers that connects them to one another. With flashbacks to a happier time interspersed in the narrative, we come to completely understand what has pushed Ben to his limits. Ben's investigating these seven strangers (seven is a very important number in this film) to see if they're deserving of something special he has to offer, and with each affirmative answer he's one step closer to that phone call that opened the film.
Will Smith really stretches his acting muscles, and his fans' patience, with Seven Pounds
. Smith, an effusive, charismatic actor, even drains the life out of his eyes while in character as Ben. And love or hate the film, Smith's performance in Seven Pounds
is one of his best. He completely dissolves into this poor, sad creature who feels the need to atone for a tragic act from his past.
is terrific as Emily, a courageous young woman dying of heart disease. Ben keeps everyone, including his own brother (Michael Ealy
) at arm's length, but develops a soft spot for the once vibrant, now fragile Emily. Dawson's Emily is a woman whose dreams have been cut short, yet she hasn't given up or given into the idea of dying. She's a fighter and Ben is not only touched by her struggle to live but also her unmistakable zest for life. Dawson and Smith make the improbable relationship between Ben and Emily, which is actually the heart of Seven Pounds
, something we can grab onto and feel hopeful about.
The Bottom Line Seven Pounds
doesn't disguise the fact Will Smith's character is ready to commit suicide. That's revealed in the first few minutes of the movie. What it does try to hold back on revealing is what has driven him to the point where killing himself seems like the best option. I don't advise you go alone to Seven Pounds
if you plan on seeing it at all. This is one movie that will definitely spark conversations and it's important to have a sounding board around for after the credits roll.
Rosario Dawson and Will Smith in 'Seven Pounds.'
© Columbia Pictures
Your interpretation of what he's doing and why he's doing it, and your acceptance of his act as a viable option, will depend solely on your state of mind going in. Hitting theaters a week before Christmas, Seven Pounds
a family-friendly holiday movie. It's a film that examines the meaning of life and how our actions can have consequences that impact the lives of other. It's also a film that's going to radically divide audiences. For me, it was too much of a message movie and one which I found that the sum of its parts didn't add up to a whole. The steps taken by Ben in order to help these seven people he finds worthy seemed a little too staged, too contrived. Still, the acting's fantastic and the story isn't one we see unspool on film every day. For those reasons, Seven Pounds
is worth a look but only if you're in the mood for a somber movie-going experience.
Seven Pounds was directed by Gabriele Muccino and is rated PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content and a scene of sensuality.
Theatrical Release Date: December 19, 2008