×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Seven Pounds

"Seven Pounds" is an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head.

With:
Ben Thomas - Will Smith Emily Posa - Rosario Dawson Ezra Turner - Woody Harrelson Ben's Brother - Michael Ealy Dan - Barry Pepper Connie Tepos - Elpidia Carrillo George Ristucci - Bill Smitrovich Sarah - Robinne Lee Stewart Goodman - Tim Kelleher Larry/Hotel Owner - Joseph A. Nunez Dr. Briar - Gina Hecht

A movie that, like “The Sixth Sense,” depends entirely upon the payoff for its impact, “Seven Pounds” is an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head. Intricately constructed so as to infuriate anyone predominantly guided by rationality and intellect, this reteaming of star Will Smith and director Gabriele Muccino after their surprisingly effective “The Pursuit of Happyness” is off-putting for its manifest manipulations, as well as its pretentiousness and self-importance. All the same, the climax will be emotionally devastating for many viewers, perhaps particularly those with serious religious beliefs, meaning there’s a substantial audience out there for this profoundly peculiar drama, if word gets around.

Everything, including the title, the ad campaign and a good portion of the film, is designed to give away absolutely nothing about the true nature of the picture. Melodramatic opening scene plays like something out of an old film noir like “D.O.A.,” as a man (Smith) calls 911 to report a suicide. “Who’s the victim?” the operator asks. “I am,” the man replies, whereupon there’s nowhere to go but to a film-long flashback to reveal what’s gotten him to this point.

Thus begins first-time screenwriter Grant Nieporte’s narrative sleight-of-hand, designed to keep the audience onboard for a long ride while offering just enough of a hint that an intriguing revelation awaits at the end of the line. He’s better at the latter than at the former; for at least the first half of the film, none of what you see makes much sense or possesses any particular dramatic import.

Carrying an ID card from the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, Smith’s Ben Thomas circles some names on a printout. One is blind phone salesman and pianist Ezra (Woody Harrelson), while another is Emily (Rosario Dawson), a young woman with an enlarged heart who will need a transplant soon if she’s to survive. It’s hard to know how to read Ben during this phase; the way he insinuates himself into other people’s lives gives him something of the air of a hustler or con man, and his contentious phone relationship with his brother (Michael Ealy) raises questions of its own.

On the other hand, Ben appears anxious to please, his directness and soft-spoken urgency betokening a genuineness of intent. Before long, an appealing tenderness enters into his relationship with Emily that ultimately blossoms into a full-blown love story, something that fills out a great chunk of the running time.

Given Emily’s vulnerability, Ben’s gentle patience with her, Smith and Dawson’s attractiveness, the lushly intimate widescreen images devised by Muccino and lenser Philippe Le Sourd, and Angelo Milli’s literally incessant button-pushing score, “Seven Pounds” offers either seductive emotional appeal or indigestible mawkishness, according to taste. Along the way, there are references to a fatal vehicular accident, suggestions of Ben’s deceptiveness and inscrutable imagery of a jellyfish which, you may be sure, all factor crucially in the denouement.

Whether one entirely rejects the project’s high-minded game-playing or falls right into the filmmakers’ quasi-spiritual trap and is thereby helplessly reduced to a jellyfish-like state at the end, it’s impossible to claim that Muccino and Nieporte lack the courage of their convictions, or faith in the moral value of their contrived little sacrificial fable.

Nor can it be said that Smith, whose most recent box office barn-burners, “I Am Legend” and “Hancock,” seemed consciously designed to set the star apart from the rest of humanity, shies away from the saintlike status conferred upon his character. Indeed, he embraces it in a way so convincing that it proves disturbing as an indication of how highly this or any momentarily anointed superstar may regard himself.

Seven Pounds

Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation, in association with Relativity Media, of an Overbrook Entertainment, Escape Artists production. Produced by Todd Black, James Lassiter, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Will Smith. Executive producers, David Crockett, David Bloomfield, Ken Stovitz, Domenico Procacci. Co-producers, Molly Allen, Chrissy Blumenthal. Directed by Gabriele Muccino. Screenplay, Grant Nieporte.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Philippe Le Sourd; editor, Hughes Winborne; music, Angelo Milli; production designer, J. Michael Riva; art director, David F. Klassen; set designer, Anne Porter; set decorator, Leslie A. Pope; costume designer, Sharon Davis; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Jim Stuebe; supervising sound editor, Dennis Drummond; sound designer, D. Chris Smith; supervising sound mixers, Tateum Kohut, Greg Orloff, Rick Kline; associate producer, Tracey Nyberg; assistant director, Jeffrey Wetzel; second unit director, Conrad E. Palmisano; second unit camera, Josh Bleibtreu; casting, Denise Chamian, Angela Demo. Reviewed at Sony Studios, Culver City, Dec. 3, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 123 MIN.

Cast: Ben Thomas - Will Smith Emily Posa - Rosario Dawson Ezra Turner - Woody Harrelson Ben's Brother - Michael Ealy Dan - Barry Pepper Connie Tepos - Elpidia Carrillo George Ristucci - Bill Smitrovich Sarah - Robinne Lee Stewart Goodman - Tim Kelleher Larry/Hotel Owner - Joseph A. Nunez Dr. Briar - Gina Hecht

More Scene

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazers [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. More Reviews Film Review: 'My Extraordinary Summer With Tess' [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. More Reviews Film Review: 'My Extraordinary Summer With Tess' Film Review: 'Ghost Fleet' With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

  • Karl LagerfeldChanel Paris-Londres 2007/8 Show, London,

    Legendary Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85

    Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion icon – and iconoclast – who outfitted and photographed such stars as Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga, has died. He was 85. Lagerfeld died in Paris, fashion house Chanel said. Although his health had been failing, he kept working up to his death, issuing instructions regarding Fendi’s fall ready-to-wear collection, which [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content