Pros: Deeply moving spiritual movie with brilliant performances.
Cons: Smith's characters is viewed as a hero rather than a coward.
Seven Pounds (2008) Directed by Gabriele Muccino
‘It is within my power to drastically change his circumstances, but I don't want to give that man a gift he doesn't deserve.' - Ben Thomas
What do we have in this life? What do we have to give in this life? These two questions are at the heart of this movie.
Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is the world's most unusual IRS Agent. As you know, the IRS can pretty much go anywhere, and ask any question they want. Most people answer them quickly, not wanting to be subjected to the ordeal of a full audit which can best be described as undergoing a rigid sigmoidoscopy while passing a kidney stone.
Yet Ben is polite. Ben is friendly. Ben is interested in peoples' lives, not their pocket books.
Ben can also rip the blind customer service operator (Woody Harrelson: Ezra) a new one, being as harsh and cruel as he can. What accounts for this dichotomy?
Ben is very involved in the life of Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) a young woman whose heart condition is threatening not only her life, but her solvency. Ben puts a freeze on her debt, buying her a penalty free six months. It is a hugely kind and incredibly rare gesture.
As Ben is drawn ever closer to Emily, he also investigates other cases. A woman in an abusive relationship, a coach for poor kids, a nursing home director. In each case, he penetrates to the heart of who that person is. Why does he want to know these people, and why in such intimate detail?
Ben is a completely focused character. He never doubts his actions; they make perfect sense to him. But we are offered only hints and clues to his motivations, and like an onion, we peel down to the core.
This powerful and moving film deals with difficult themes; the value of human life; redemption and healing. And given the format of the mystery, it is totally on Will Smith to handle the emotional nuance with grace, subtlety, and truth to his internal vision. Fortunately, he is more than up to the job. Most importantly, he never overacts anything. If anything, he is subdued, and that in itself carries a veritas.
Equally important is Rosario as Emily. She has to react the way we would react, who are in the dark of the bigger picture.
And big picture is what the movie is all about. It lays out this extraordinary life, shows us the impact it has already had, and leads us towards the huge impact he is planning.
I can't say I was even a little surprised. I know others were, but to me, his pain was a roadmap leading to the inevitable conclusion. That says exactly how good Smith's acting is. If it can by psychoanalyzed to the correct conclusion, then he did it right.
It's a bittersweet drama. Many lives are saved. One isn't. Personally I would have tried for that one.
This review is Lean-N-Mean at 500 words.