Seven PoundsDirected by: Gabriele Muccino Cast: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper Running Time: 2 hours Rating: PG-13
Plot: An IRS agent named Ben Thomas (Smith) has a secret and embarks on a journey to change the lives of seven strangers, while looking for his own path of redemption.
Who’s It For? Smith won over audiences last year with The Pursuit of Happyness and it's the same type of powerful tale. There's a little mystery involved here but otherwise, it's pulling at the heart strings.
Expectations: Just like everyone else, I like Smith. It's hard not to. Though, it's funny, looking over his most recent films like I, Robot, Hitch, I Am Legend and Hancock ... Pursuit is the only good one in the bunch.
Actors: Will Smith as Ben Thomas: At first Ben almost strikes me as a compassionate devil. He's a man trying to look like he's together, but close to losing it. It takes just a little while to understand the path Ben is on, so the mystery angle is deflated a little bit, but Smith shines. It's subtle acting here, very similar to his performance in Pursuit. He's always on the verge of feelings, which is a tough balancing act. Score: 7
Rosario Dawson as Emily Posa: It's not her fault. But every time they have a moment together, it detracts from Ben's journey. The potential slow-moving romance seems to be the idea of a studio head instead of the purpose of the film. And I never felt we truly understood Emily and why she was chosen. Ben has clearly planned every step very carefully, but why Emily? Because she makes wedding invitations? There is definitely chemistry between them in the end, but Rosario Dawson trying to explain to someone that she used to be attractive is a truly tough sell. Score: 5
Woody Harrelson as Ezra: Ezra's story is just one that gets left out because of the extended time that Ben spends with Emily. This would be a standard cut and paste poor blind person story, if it wasn't for the truly fantastic first scene when we meet Ezra. Ben feels he must test him out, before deciding if he's worthy and he let's Ezra have it over the phone. Harrelson delivers in this small role. Score: 7
Talking: There isn't much into Ben's past that he is willing to talk about, except for a bedtime story about a boy named Tim and his desire to build space ships. I wanted more of a connection with all seven lives Ben was attempting to change for the better. Score: 6
Sights: Look closes at the details, it becomes overkill but early on, you notice it's the same suit that Ben is always wearing, and it's just slightly wrinkled. Otherwise, there is a little too many flashbacks for my taste, and that hurts the potential mystery as well. Score: 6
Sounds: Nick Drake's "One of These Thing's First" works great in the song for a slightly upbeat moment. Emily kind of sings an older song I don't know ... the lines go "you are the one, the one, the one, for me." Any thoughts? And by older, I mean OLD, at least 40 years ago, I'm guessing. Score: 6
Best Scene: I was waiting anxiously for the end of this film and it delivers. This is the only truly gut-wrenching moment of Seven Pounds.
Ending: The ending (after the climax) gives the film a chance to fill in all the loose gaps (see Questions below) but I don't think it really does a good enough job.
Questions: Marrow, liver, eyes, heart, house ... what else am I missing? Who are all seven? Does his brother and Barry Pepper count? Do the two kids count? If this is the whole point of the film (and not a reason for romance) why do I have questions? Here's the best I could do (with help from another critic) 1. Emily 2. Ezra 3. Hockey coach 4. bone marrow kid 5. Holly 6. Connie. No idea who the seventh is. And yes, I have to ask ... is it a good idea of a woman who could die within weeks, and gets winded from walking the dog, to have sex? Couldn't there have been one line thrown in like, "We have to go slow," or "I can't get to excited." It would've/could've been a nice addition.
Rewatchability: To fill in the gaps, yes, but otherwise, it's the type of film that is better to think fondly of, instead of risking a second viewing and being annoyed with the errors.
Will Smith delivers and I am officially more of a fan of his recent dramas then the other stuff. There should have been greatness in this film, or at least it feels like there could have been. I wanted to be left bawling like a little baby, this story has that potential. I was just never lifted to the next level until the ending, when some tears fell. Ben is holding onto a secret that will change the lives of seven others forever, but I wish Muccino, the director, would have held on tighter to the secret.
Most people will understand the direction of the film about a quarter of the way in. There just won't be the mystery there could have been to this drama. If Muccino had used no flashbacks until the very end, our jaws could have collectively dropped. But when Ben gets distracted with Emily, so does the entire film. We almost forget Ben is on a focused (albeit depressed) journey. Seven Pounds is about guilt, grief, life and what can be done ... I just wanted to be weighted down even more by Ben's path.
Final Score: 6/10