Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Premise: A man troubled with a guilty secret (Will Smith) uses his resources and wealth to improve the lives of needy people.
What Works: Seven Pounds features one of Will Smith’s best performances in a long time, probably his best since Ali, because it requires subtlety and nuance, which Smith is not known for, while also using the charm that has made him such a bankable star. The combination works and Smith is able to create a character whose inner guilt is always present, just hovering below the surface. The other performance that really shines here is Rosario Dawson as a woman with a heart condition. She is vulnerable but maintains her dignity and Dawson is a lot of fun to watch as her character begins to fall in love with Smith. The interaction of the characters is terrific and the film has moments of great beauty between them. A number of their scenes are excellently staged and lit and the actors play up the romantic tension very nicely.
What Doesn’t: Seven Pounds is slow and overlong, especially in the first half. This is partly due to the fractured nature of the film; Will Smith’s character helps one person, then another and another with little or nothing connecting them together. Smith’s character does not learn anything from one person and apply it to the next case and although the film is well intentioned, its message is muddled. This is worse for Seven Pounds than many other films because the picture is rather full of itself. Seven Pounds has “This Film Has an Important Message” written in giant, flashing letters all across the background but there’s little bite to it. Actually, the film is very flat; Smith’s character is constantly sulking and the film matches his tone with very few highs and lows. Lastly, the story is suspiciously similar to 21 Grams, especially in the Will Smith-Rosario Dawson storyline.
Bottom Line: Seven Pounds has some good performances but they are buried by a script that is too fractured and a pompous tone that takes itself too seriously.
Episode: #220 (December 28, 2008)