Seven Pounds Reviews
"Seven Pounds" is not so much bad as under-developed. There is interesting subject matter, but first-time screenwriter Grant Nieporte appears not to have had any idea how to explore the ideas and develop a real story. What he did was basically just provide the outline for a story. The script has all the depth of something Kim Kardashian would write if she took a Creative Writing course.
Without giving away the details and surprises, I'll simply say that a man responsible for a horrific tragedy (the character played by Smith) attempts a form of redemption by making extraordinary sacrifices for others. I won't give away what he does for them, but it's not what you think.
This would be quite interesting to explore. How many stages of grief did the man go through? What difficulties has he had in figuring out a way to live again? How were his relationships impacted?
What sorts of attempts did he make at healing? Which ones were more successful than others and why? And what counts as "success" in grieving anyway?
How did he come up with the idea for the sacrifices he makes? What sorts of mixed feelings did he have about the sacrifices? What kind of complex emotions did the recipients of his generosity feel? There's the obvious gratitude. But surely a serious screenwriter would be more interested in the darker complexities of such situations.
Nieporte had no interest in any of this. All he wanted to show was simple grief, simple generosity, and simple gratitude. He clearly is not an artist. At heart he's probably a greeting-card writer. Very simple sentiment.
Italian director Gabriele Muccino, who first directed an American film in 2008 ("The Pursuit of Happyness," also starring Smith), seems to revel in the simplicity of the script. He directs in a mind-bogglingly pedestrian way, using one schmaltzy cliche after the next. The only real creativity is in the editing, which is at times intriguing. This film project could have gone somewhere. But unfortunately it never really got off the ground.
Even a good cast (Smith is joined by Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson, among others) can't do much with it. There's just so much actors can do when the screenwriter and director are aiming resolutely for superficiality.
The first act of this film is spent trying to hide information from the audience. I suppose director Gabriele Muccino thought that revealing Ben's history provided more dramatic impact if than the story itself could provide, and so she resorted to gimmickry, but all it accomplished was pissing me off. I like stories about good people trying to do the right thing in the face of horrid circumstances, and this is such a story, but it's simply not told well. Also, I think the story would have been more realistic had more people, especially Emily, questioned Ben's motivations; after all, in the real world people who do nice things are almost always accused of having ulterior motives.
Will Smith's performance is reserved and stoic, but unlike his other dramatic turns, like in The Pursuit of Happyness, Smith's natural enthusiasm doesn't come out; it feels like he's choking himself to remind all involved that this is heavy-handed drama. Rosario Dawson is good, playing the sweet, charming, damaged character with charm and grace.
Overall, there are an awful lot of flaws in the way the story is told, but I like the basic premise.
Lots of Tissues required!
Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is a serious, sad-faced stranger who walks into people's lives like some sort of angel. The first piece of the puzzle: Is he the Angel of Death or a guardian angel?
Ben's an IRS agent, so he has access to people's entire lives. He shows up, unannounced, and interviews folks -- interrogates them actually. He's tactless, a little rude. They're in arrears on their taxes, upside down on their mortgages, in failing health or leading lives limited by circumstances beyond their control.
Not much to say about this film other than "HOLY SH*T HE JUST KILLED HIMSELF WITH A F*CKING JELLYFISH"
The film itself sets a depressed tone from the start and whilst it does take a while to start moving and understand where the plot is being taken, the mystery soon unravels in tiny parts, right up until the very end. Without a doubt Smith?s finest performance to date.
A well written storyline with an original idea.
I was pulling for the love story, even though I knew it was doomed (as made obvious by the 911 suicide call), and the twist was surprising and yet somehow predictable. The final explaination was too pat and trite and made you feel jerked around by what had happened beforehand.
Too many rationalisations and too much revealed in that final coda, making it seem almost like a cliff note version of itself.
I just don't know - worth watching? I suppose. Recommended? Maybe. I guess that Smith was looking for good people to give to and it was just chance that he ended up falling in love with the one who needed his heart (how's that for heavy handed metaphor?).
Odds and ends: the scene with the brother outside the gf's house ended oddly - why did he ask for the keys to Will's car? And why did he say "I'll be waiting, don't make me come in after you". Huh? So he goes back in, makes some lame excuse, she kisses him anyway and they spend the rest of the night in bed - a nice scene - but wasn't the brother outside in the rain in Will's car?? Also, when Will gave his beach house to the battered Mexican woman and her two kids - umm, just wondering where the nearest school is and how the upper crust is going to enjoy torturing two kids from the bario. She may be safe there and able to heal, but she's still going to need a job and I don't imagine there's many opportunities for unskilled labor out at the beach.
I should also mention that Woody Harrelson was terrific in a small role as a blind beef salesman.
Will Smith plays a solid and touching performance; in comparison to other films such as Pursuit of Happyness and Ali, we witness another struggle of character.
The movie is awe in spiring, it has a great soundtrack, heart, courage, character, love - it's mysterious, it's semi-unpredictable, it's happy, and it's sad. The movie touches all bases and it is my opinion another classical fiilm by Will Smith that everyone should take time out too see.
Nate's Grade: C