Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds reunites Will Smith with his The Pursuit of Happyness director Muccino in a tale that, while different, retains a similar level of emotional power. Or, rather, wants to but generally fails. It's certainly not a failure and I certainly don't want to undermine Smith's commitment to the role (he's rarely been better), nor is it a criticism of the supporting cast; quality character players like Pepper, Harrelson and Smitrovich plus the ever reliable Dawson being generally adorable and beautifully understated. It's more a reflection on the plot.

As you may have gathered from other reviews / the advertising campaign, Seven Pounds is an enigmatic film, one of those well-shot tales that won't reveal its content. The effect is initially intriguing, ditto the review embargo that asks journalists to keep plot points to a minimum so as not to spoil the surprise. Accordingly, I can announce that Will Smith plays Ben Thomas, an Inland Revenue man with a mysterious plan. At the start of the film, Ben calls 911 and reports his own suicide before Muccino whisks the viewer into a glossy tale of redemption and Ben's hidden past. 

The problem is that the twists rapidly become pretty obvious to the viewer. You might not guess the specific details or the depth of Ben's plan, but the general gist? You'll probably get it within minutes. During the final hour, as the lengths Ben's gone to get revealed — and in some cases unravel —  Seven Pounds is a good-looking, unusual romance with hidden depths (and a highly original suicide method). The first hour though? About one third as fascinating as Muccino appears to think it is and frequently just plain dull. That's a crying shame as Smith acts his knitted footwear off and, with a little more quality control, this could have been a resonant emotional journey. Instead, you'll have to file under melodrama. Decent enough melodrama, to be sure, but melodrama all the same. 

Official Site
Seven Pounds at IMDb

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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