Wistful Will wallows in wet weepathonWill Smith’s latest offering can be best described as a spiritual journey of redemption and sacrifice by a man haunted by his past who finds love all too late - and he spends most of the film in tears.
Now, if just reading this induces an automatic gag reflex, then “Seven Pounds” probably isn’t for you.
In fact, this film will disappoint both the popcorn crowd too simplistic to appreciate the symbolism of a jellyfish and those too intellectual to be impressed by the said symbolic jellyfish.
The reasons why this film failed to capture commercial or critical acclaim are all too clear. As far as vanity projects go, this is a particularly grandiose and self-regarding one.
The same team that gave us “The Pursuit of Happyness” (Smith and director Gabriele Muccino) have ramped up sentimentality to a whole new sickly level, which might bring you to tears, but ultimately leave you feeling emotionally violated.
Owing to the nature of this convoluted film, which unravels in nonlinear form, it’s best not to give away too much of the plot in this review.
But Seven Pounds does open in intriguing fashion, with a man calling 911 to report his own suicide before jinking back in time to see the same man maliciously taunt a blind man about not being able to see.
And this is essentially what the film boils down to: some great individual scenes that collectively fail to make a great story.
The cinematography, lighting and score are at times moving and beautiful - a cutaway shot during a love scene to a candle burning outside next to empty wineglasses as raindrops begin falling is just one of many that linger in my mind.
Yet the cinematic highs are sunk by the indulgent close-ups of Will Smith crying, a pained Will Smith looking into the distance, and Will Smith just wistfully gazing into nothingness. It would have been more subtle if he had just screamed “I want an Oscar” for two hours.
Unfortunately no one is going to give him one.
But it would be churlish not to acknowledge the quality of Smith’s performance. The previous prince of fresh is a seriously talented actor, even if he is still trying too hard. Perhaps this film would’ve worked better with a director who doesn’t buy into Smith’s messiah complex.
The chemistry, however, that his character Ben Thomas shares with Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) is one of the bright spots in the succession of somber shots.
Despite the script’s improbable premise, Dawson does bring a certain glow to the screen for a dying woman.
The image of her immersing herself in bathtub water to listen to her heartbeat, a heart donated by her lover and savior, as the film’s music gives way to the sound of the quiet water and the beating of life, is yet another scene I find hard to forget.
Sifting through Seven Pounds for such nuggets of cinematic gold though, could get tiresome. For moviegoers who can happily sit through a frustrating two-hour plus film for the payoff of a few beautiful shots and a handful of touching scenes, this film will still be well worth seeing.
Drama / English
By Cam Graham Contributing writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Will Smith stares longingly over a cliff in “Seven Pounds.” [MovieWeb]