Seven Pounds is possibly the most morbid holiday release aimed at a large market in some time. Due to the somewhat lackluster opening last weekend, perhaps Hollywood will realize not everything Will Smith touches turns to gold in the box office
Without giving too much away, the story follows a man named Ben Thomas (Smith), who basically visits several people and attempts to drastically change their unfortunate life circumstances for the better. First, there is blind man named Ezra, who is a gentle, kindhearted soul who truly is deserving of a hand up. Then there is the beautiful Emily (Rosario Dawson), a woman dying of a heart condition, trying to pay overdue medical bills while waiting on word of a donor, something she has given up on. Finally, there is a terrified Latino woman who lives with an abusive boyfriend who has already broken several bones in her body.
For each of these individuals, Ben provides a solution. Some of them are clear right off the bat, while others remain a mystery until the final act. For example, he offers up his home on the beach as a sanction for the abused woman. Meanwhile, he visits Emily often and assists her with everyday activities, slowly developing a bond that crosses the line of friendship. During the course of these events, several flashbacks gradually reveal why this man might have chosen to enact these divine deeds on seemingly random individuals.
Seven Pounds is a real downer of a film. Sure, it’s meant to inspire and perhaps create a sense of hope in a different way, but to no avail. The movie literally inches along like a slug, creating more despair with each passing frame. The script is highly faulted, using the framework of an altruistic man’s actions to set up a story, but then wandering off into romantic drama territory. The love angle itself holds potential, but when the remaining plot thread rears its ugly head (and it does), the movie becomes a mishmash of ideas. These ideas are poorly executed by Director Gabriele Muccino (Pursuit of Happyness), who lays on the melodramatics to a fault.
The acting, however, is notable. Smith again shows he can carry a film, and really embodies the bottled-up nature of this character that is rife with personal demons. It’s been a while since Smith has taken a role that puts him through such an emotional strainer, and he rings true. Rosario Dawson, as the disease-stricken woman he falls for, is wonderful. She brings such a sense of sorrow and longing to her character, a woman who has run out of time and second chances. In a very brief role, Woody Harrelson also makes an impact as Ezra, a blind man who chooses to remain optimistic in the face of a cruel world.
As the film spirals towards a predictable, yet somber, conclusion, Seven Pounds literally drains patience and credibility (not to mention holiday cheer). The last sequence is meant to tie the strings together in an uplifting fashion, but the bad aftertaste remains.
Take a chance on disposable, entertaining fluff like Yes Man and Marley and Me this holiday season, and save Seven Pounds for the winter doldrums of January.