Will SMITH, Rosario DAWSON, Woody HARRELSON, Barry PEPPER,
(Directed by: Gabriele MUCCINO)
WHY SEVEN POUNDS?
“Seven Pounds” lightly bears reference to, may pay homage to, but in no way parallels William Shakespeare’s late 16th century comedy-romance-drama “The Merchant of Venice”, whereas Antonio is forced to give up one pound of his own flesh should he default on a loan from his creditor, Shylock. Other references of “Seven Pounds” have been made whereas one pound of flesh would be paid, perhaps as penance for every act of sin, to secure a more satisfying afterlife. In the (2008) movie “Seven Pounds” the title could refer to seven donations, whereas each donation represents a separate “debt” and each car accident victim a separate “creditor”, but in no way bears any reference as to the “weight” of the organs.
Let’s get right down to it guys, this movie is heavy and dark. Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness) is redirecting Will Smith, this time as Tim Thomas (alias Ben Thomas), an aeronautical engineer posing as his brother, an IRS agent. Ben’s personal quest is to audit several carefully chosen people in dire need, and assess whether or not they are morally sound and deserving enough to be given one of life’s most rarest and precious gifts, a second chance at life.
Following a deadly texting and driving accident, Ben’s overwhelming guilt sends him on a spree to atone his mistake which resulted in the death of seven people, one of them being his fiance. In an effort to assuage his suffering he begins to carefully choreograph what will ultimately lead to his own suicide, a sacrifice he feels necessary toward his path to redeeming himself in his own way. Of course their isn’t a better way to thwart off your plans for death than to find a reason to live. Enter Emily Posa (Dawson), a hospital patient in need of a heart. Ben’s meeting Emily is no mistake as she is one of several potential beneficiaries he tests to see if they are deserving. As he poses as an IRS agent intent on collecting a $56,000.00 overdue tax bill, Ben secretly tests Emily in what will soon deem her worthy of his own heart, and love as well. The turning point being when Emily calls him, only from an IRS business card he gave her, from her hospital room. She only wants to talk. This to me was the turning point of the story and the relationship. With his self-sacrificial plans still in full motion Ben faces the dilemma of love. You can’t forget that it isn’t as if Ben is dying. He isn’t in a donor program. He is very much alive, suffering from guilt, and in desperate need of atonement. This makes the movie take a deeper plunge when you realize that this is all a choice and we as an audience will find ourselves rooting for him to change his mind. Two other potential beneficiaries come into play which pretty much tell us, but not certainly, that his plans won’t change. Ben seeks out Ezra Turner, a blind meat salesman and a forerunner in aquiring Smith’s eyes, but not before he goes through a brutal character examination. It’s important to Ben that they who need in fact deserve, thus ensuring that he’ s made fair and just atonement for his past mistake. Another beneficiary is Connie Tepos, a physically abused mother of two that’s scared out of her wit to run away from her situation. Carefully preparing for his grand exit, Ben enlist the help of his good friend Dan Morris (Barry Pepper) to act as executor of his wishes and guarantee his last wishes are met, a request Dan is all too uncomfortable honoring.
There isn’t a damn thing you can say about the acting in this movie. I may question Smith’s choice in attaching himself to this script but than again, after that performance, I can tell that he knew what he was getting into, was familiar with the bittersweet perspective of life, and chose to run with it. The love affair between Thomas and Posa started by accident, even though their introduction was not, and this whetted my appetite for a blossoming romance even more. Even though i knew at the end it was impossible.
The challenges the screenwriter’s bestowed upon Ben Thomas were well thought of and well designed. Since no one I know, including myself, could possibly empathize with a storyline such as this, it is left for the writer’s to corraborate and come up with some believeable “what if” situations. “What if” I almost donated my eyes to a bigot? It is important that the screening of the suitable beneficiaries opens a window that allows us to see not only thier need, but their deserving of. This is quite a challenge because the auditing process, as we see in the opening scenes, is a very painful one for Thomas to endure.
Soundtrack, cinematography, editing, and storytelling were all on cue, so what about this movie made me feel queazy? It was slow and heavy and that was to much for me to endure. I would have liked to see just a little comic relief or something that would have balanced the weight of misery. I’m really not into filmmakers trying to extract tears from me rather let me feel the sorrow on my own. The only possible “feel good” aspect of this movie was torn from me as I found myself not wanting the inevitable to happen. I was screaming at him to look toward forgiveness. In a world where we’re encouraged to forgive ourselves, the filmmaker’s decision to have him follow through with his own suicide made me feel a little cheated.
In the end I’ll say this about the movie. It’s viewable, reviewable, but certainly not a re-viewable movie. This script could have gone on a 28 page diet and still maintained the point (redemption, atonement, etc) and probably my attention span. It has to be seen at a certain time and you’ll need to be uninterrupted as great focus and patience are needed to follow the plot, especially if you’re willing to make it to the end. The movies own challenge was how to interested. That pretty much failed but once you’re committed you might as well finish it and to tell you the truth their is an aspect of this movie that does draw you in but doesn’t necessarily keep you in. That’s a will that comes from within. It’s not a love story by far, but it is a movie that breeds debate as it touches on some contraversial issues like suicide, overwhelming guilt, atonement, but offers terrible advice on how to deal with it. Empathy plays no roll in this picture unless you know what it’s like to convict yourself, and punish yourself as well. All in all I guess I enjoyed this movie and you might too but if you’re trying to change your emotional direction from bad to better this flick may not be for you.