Seven Pounds

December 19, 2008 at 9:00 pm | Posted in movies | Leave a comment
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Ben Thomas: I haven’t treated myself very well.
Emily Posa: Start now.

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Seven Pounds
AMC Stony Brook – December 19, 2008

Right before the snow hit, my friend Drew and I ventured out at 11 am to see the second showing of the newly released movie Seven Pounds. This will be a brief review: not only because of my hiatus, but because this film is one that is better off shrouded in mystery.

I recently saw Will Smith and Rosario Dawson on Oprah, who was singing the movie’s praises like one of her book-club books. However, all three found it difficult to discuss the plot. Gushing from Obama’s presidential win, Will Smith did his best not to cry during the interview (to a hilarious end). Lovely as ever, Rosario Dawson continued with their experience filming the heart-breaking love scene depicted above. (Including what Jada Pinkett-Smith had to say… I’m not one for celebrity gossip, but Rosario gets the better of Will here and he’s a great sport about it.)

Needless to say it is beautifully shot and takes its viewers along an emotional (aka depressing) ride. In the interview, Will states that it was about profound loss and the emotional turmoil akin to true human experience. He has been branching out more into this realm, most recently with The Pursuit of Happyness which shares the same director Gabriele Muccino as well as the producers for Seven Pounds. Though I have not seen his last couple of movies – same goes for Hancock – I believe that Smith’s amazing potential as an gifted actor shows as many layers as the movie itself did. In that sense, its hard to know what kind of movie it is. This film transcends genre. The trailer does a pretty good job of illustrating the sense that you can not truly understand until you see the film. In the good way though, not the old bait and switch.

The synopsis as succinct as possible: The emotional journey of a man who sets out to change the lives of seven strangers. Without giving away too much of the plot, Ben Thomas is a complex and deeply troubled man on a path to redemption. seven-pounds-will-smithlargerWill Smith is perfectly cast here and I look forward to more roles of this nature. In fact, the whole cast was well-suited, particularly Rosario Dawson who somehow brought a whole other level of sensitivity to the role. As stated in her interview, her character engages the viewer with a line of sad and unfortunate circumstances, all the while Emily Posa handles herself with grace and dignity throughout. Also, Woody Harrelson shows up here as unexpectedly as his last cameo appearance in No Country for Old Men. A thankless role, but well played.

The soundtrack sticks out in my mind as being a tad too punchy at times, in an “insert correct emotional response here” type of way. Specifically, the use of a personal favorite song One of These Things First by Nick Drake seemed somewhat superfluous for the aligned moment. Maybe I’m just used to associating Nick Drake with John Cusack in a happily contemplative moment like in Serendipity. Here, it just seemed to take me out of the scene that supposed to be rife with emotion. Remarkably, our movie showing also had technical difficulties: some projection and sound problems. This really surprised me since it was only the second showing of that movie in this particular theater… For those who have seen the film and want to know, Emily Posa’s song is For Me, Formidable by Charles Aznavour. (Youtube includes the lyrics in the video notes. It’s a cute scene, but I couldn’t understand them either. lol)

If you want to read a hysterical and spoilerific review by a New York Times reviewer that unequivocally HATED this film, go here. It’s funny, mostly because I don’t think they got it. Another strong review with excellent summation, spoiler and not, is here. (Thanks BenAmor!)

On the whole, not fully knowing what to expect plotwise is the best way to go here.

RATING:  (UPDATE 12/30: Was originally 4 stars, but upon further reflection, it was a “worth seeing” kind of movie.)
Recommendation: Just a bit too sad for a date movie, to be honest. Was worth the chance to see it in the theater. However if you – like so many nowadays – have become an economically conscious neo-purist who reserves ticket-buying for the huge special effects blockbusters, then save it for rental.

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