Seven Pounds
Unable to get jiggy wit it, Will Smith does some soul searching.


Golden Mug

2008 GOLDEN MUG NOMINEE:

Best Actor (Will Smith)
Best Actress (Rosario Dawson)


Theatrical Release Date: 12/19/2008
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Cast: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Barry Pepper, Michael Ealy, Woody Harrelson, Elpidia Carrillo

For a film written by someone whose only previous credits are “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “8 Simple Rules … for Dating My Teenage Daughter”, writer Grant Nieporte sure has switched up his genres.

“Seven Pounds” is one of those films whose plot is so central to the experience that I’m not going to comment on it – at least not directly or with any real intent to reveal as much as possible. All one should know ahead of time is that this is NOT something to go into lightly … and bring Kleenex if you’re one of those people who can feel emotions and tend to cry when events seem to call for tears.

What I can say about the film is that it is about a 94 on the Ian scale. For those of you who have read my reviews over the years, or who are unfortunate enough to know me, I think you can gleam just how melancholy, morose and possibly tragic “Seven Pounds” could turn out to be.

What happened to the other 6 points? And if it’s such an “Ian” film, then why not give out the top score of a 5 out of 5? Good questions.

Both answers are essentially the same: Grand Nieporte and director Gabriele Muccino (who also directed Will Smith’s last Oscar vehicle “The Pursuit of Happyness”) pulled their punches. Now, while a large portion of the audience sniffled and wept throughout much of the film, I found myself constantly torn between having my heart broken (which for a film is a good thing) and wanting to slap someone (which isn’t necessarily a good thing).

When a film is on the darker side, I want it to be dark. Don’t pull away, don’t give me a breath to recompose myself. At times throughout the film, as moments became powerful to the point of breaking me, an ill-chosen song would start playing. Whether it’s Muse’s version of “Feelin’ Good” or Nick Drake’s “One of These Things First”, each has a sense of hope that is the antithesis of the scene over which it’s played.

Also, as is all too common, the film reaches a perfect and natural ending point … and then it goes on for one more scene. The difference in tone here was glaring enough that it felt like a test screening garnered too many responses like “it’s too dark” or “I don’t like crying”.

The fact that figuring out the premise of the film takes about 5 minutes is also quite annoying. I think it would have been far more effective to keep the audience further in the dark as to Smith’s intentions. This would have heightened the latter section of the film, rather than relegate it to the closing of a cinematic circle.

Then there’s the final nail in the coffin … which is far more of a personal issue than a critical one. Smith’s character chooses to act in a certain manner and/or ask certain things of Rosario Dawson and Barry Pepper. It’s understandable but considering his motivations, actually shades the character in a much more self-serving (and even cruel) light … breaking my notion of his nobility and conviction. Again, though, this is a very personal issue of mine with the film and it’s up to the individual viewer to decide if this is a character flaw that makes him more fragile and therefore more human … or if you’re as sick and twisted as myself.

As far as the acting goes, both Smith and Dawson deliver the best performances of their careers. Their characters are desperately hoping to find meaning and redemption, to validate their existence. Seeing them struggle is heart-wrenching and beautiful, the kind of beauty that can only be derived from sadness and pain. Each deserve awards contention and I hope they aren’t forgotten in the shuffle.

The supporting cast is also quite formidable. While Woody Harrelson seemed a little flat in comparison to most, Michael Ealy and Barry Pepper deliver convincing performances worthy of also putting them on the short list for acting awards.

I can say with certainty that I’ll be looking to catch this film again (and again) once it hits the DVD shelves. If you can handle heavy subject material, I highly recommend giving “Seven Pounds” a chance and give it the highest possible 4 out of 5. Had the filmmakers kept the film mired in darkness and had the premise not been so easy to figure out, this would have nabbed top honors from me. But make no mistake, this is a film that left an impression … and while it may not land itself too high on many critics’ lists, I’ll be placing this within my own personal favorites of 2008 for sure.