Movie Review: Seven Pounds

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A man tries to atone for a terrible accident by changing the lives of seven strangers who he’s deemed to be good people.

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Gabriele Mucchino, 2008

It’s hard to review this movie without giving away what’s going on. Suffice it to say that Will Smith makes a lot of decisions regarding life and death as he falls in love with the dying, sickly Rosario Dawson. He also awkwardly meets and is alternatively cruel and kind to a variety of people in need, including a woman trying to escape her abusive husband, blind Woody Harrelson, and a kid. He also gets two whole scenes with his brother, Michael Ealy, which I liked mostly because Michael Ealy is lovely. As Will Smith meets these people he spends some time crying and having flashbacks, building the mystery of who he really is, which clearly isn’t the IRS agent he’s pretending to be, and why he’s contacting these people and doing nice things for them.

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Will Smith pouts pathetically throughout this preachy, heavy-handed, melodramatic movie. Rosario Dawson is lovely but her attraction to Smith’s character is completely confounding – what she sees in him is a mystery to me, especially since he flat-out refuses to tell her anything personal. More irritating than Smith’s overacting is the morality of the character, though. He goes around testing people to see whether they’re good enough people to deserve a chance to live. He essentially plays God, when really he’s just a sad little man who made a horrible mistake and has absolutely no right to decide what makes someone good enough to live. The movie plays like it’s this uplifting and morally charming story, but all I felt was angry and irritated. The narrative jumps around pointlessly as well, making the film somewhat frustrating to follow – the timeline jumps around all over the place. Most annoyingly of all, there is an off note in the main theme, which I’m sure is meant to evoke some emotion other than extreme annoyance, but only succeeds in making my neck tense up every time it’s about to play.

It’s actually shot beautifully, contrasting warm and cool tones, and most of the supporting performances are good, if somewhat overwrought. There are some particularly lovely shots of a box jellyfish that are mesmerising. It even seems to mean well, but the pandering is so infuriating. What he ends up doing for Rosario Dawson is so incredibly cheesy as to beggar disbelief.  To be fair, I knew what the movie was about before seeing it, so the “mystery” angle left me cold – perhaps if I hadn’t known the twist ahead of time it might have been more effective.

Seven Pounds on IMDb

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