Seven Pounds (2008)

Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Elpidia Carrillo, Joe Nunez, Michael Ealy

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Will Smith in Seven Pounds

At the beginning of Seven Pounds, a desperate, weary man makes a 911 call to report a suicide. His own. The, for the next twenty minutes, it's really quite hard to figure out what's going on. Are the scenes occurring chronologically? What's the connection between the disparate people we see? And, most importantly, is Will Smith's character, Ben Thomas, a good guy or a bad guy?

For starters, he's a tax collector, not exactly Hollywood shorthand for herodom. But then again, he is played by Will Smith, and Will Smith's always a good guy. But wait! He's yelling abuse at a blind guy in a call centre. He's smashing a doctor's head through a window! And are IRS officers really supposed to stalk their clients when they're in hospital, follow them home, then walk their dogs?

But whatever you do, don't give up on this film because it refuses to treat you like an idiot. Wait for the pieces to fall into place, and then keep on hoping that you've got it wrong, because the conclusion it's all heading inexorably towards is just too damned sad for words. (Yes, Virginia cried her eyes out, although I am made of sterner stuff, and as no rubber aliens went home, remained stoically dry-eyed.)

Will Smith and Rosario Dawson and Duke the dog in Seven Pounds

To say any more will give away too much about this unusual and, at times, amazing film. Suffice it to say that Will Smith gives yet another fantastic performance as the mixed-up hero who careers dramatically between full on charismatic charmer and anguished desperado, and a frail-looking Rosario Dawson is also great as the vulnerable dying woman he really doesn't need to fall in love with.

Like a sentimental comeback to 21 grams, Seven Pounds treads on emotionally volatile and ethically unstable ground in its dealings with life, death and the curious life after death awarded by organ transplant. Compelling, powerful and moving, this is an emotional rollercoaster of a film, and definitely not recommended for anyone feeling fragile or sad. And even if it does tug on the ol' heart strings a little too much at the close, it nevertheless shirks a cheesy Hollywood ending in favour of the bittersweet sad conclusion you saw coming all along.

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