Saturday, January 25, 2014

Seven Pounds (2008) [PG-13] **

Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is an IRS agent with a terrible burden. He's responsible for his wife's death, as well as the deaths of a family of seven, in a terrible auto accident he caused. Guilt-ridden, deeply depressed and desperate, Ben concludes that suicide is his only way out. But, in order to redeem himself and make amends for his past, he decides that he will enrich the lives of seven strangers, each of whom is facing death, before making his exit.

As he goes through the process of identifying the seven, and putting his benevolent plan into action, Ben meets Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) a young woman with a life-threatening heart defect, who's waiting for a heart transplant. Unsurprisingly, Ben falls in love with Emily, so now he must contemplate his future as well as his past. If he goes through with his plan to commit suicide, and the impact on Emily is fatal, would he then be responsible for two deaths? But if he abandons his plan, how will he resolve his guilt and his depression?

This mystery/drama is not a happy story; it deals with a time that virtually every one of us experiences in the course of our lives - crushing self-doubt and loss of hope, a moment when we think the world would be a better place without us. Screenwriting by novice Grant Nieporte is weak, and pacing by director Gabriele Muccino, who directed Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness, is glacial. The leads offer believable performances given the script, and the emotionally distant Smith has marginally better romantic chemistry with Dawson than he had with Thandie Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness), Eva Mendez (Hitch) or Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot). There are good supporting performances by Woody Harrelson as a blind piano player, Elpidia Carrillo, as an abused mother, and Michael Ealy as Ben's brother. If you enjoyed The Pursuit of Happyness and Reign Over Me, you might give this one a try.

Label: drama, tragedy
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 36/100
Tomatometer (critics=27, viewers=75)

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