Vote now for Best of Detroit 2021

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Seven Pounds

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Will Smith may not actually wear a crown of thorns in Seven Pounds, but you'd be hard pressed to tell from the pained, man of constant sorrow expression he wears throughout this somber tale of redemption through self-sacrifice. Smith and Italian director Gabriele Muccino collaborated on another holiday weepie, The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), and they're completely simpatico. Muccino builds the film around Smith's emotionally raw performance, but despite some heavy plot machinations, he actually doesn't have much else to work with.

First-time screenwriter Grant Nieporte structures Seven Pounds like a mystery, but fails to deliver the most important requirement of the genre: a satisfying denouement. With so many quasi-spiritual profundities grafted onto this simple story, it could be argued that Nieporte's aiming for that great transcendent moment when sloppy plotting is forgiven in a rush of divine understanding. Despite the best efforts of Smith, who wears his suffering like a hair shirt, close to his scarred body and shattered heart, that moment never comes.

Smith embodies an inquisitive IRS agent named Ben Thomas, but something seems wrong right away. He rattles off the numbers quite easily to the people he cheerily approaches to announce that they're being audited, but seems more interested in discussing their medical conditions and determining whether or not they're "good." Even though Smith employs his trademark charm to woo the hesitant, there's a palpable hostility to Ben's concentrated attention, a rage waiting to be unleashed when he's disappointed or betrayed.

Surprisingly, no one objects to an auditor functioning as the morality police, especially not Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), who chides Ben for his lack of tact but feels an instant attraction to this fellow troubled soul. Emily's finances are in a shambles, her printing business on hold while she awaits a heart transplant, but her vulnerability doesn't blind her from seeing that Ben is more than an obsequious functionary. In flashbacks, Muccino reveals what Emily intuits; that her selfless savior was once a very powerful, driven and self-centered man.

As the portentous Seven Pounds chugs along, buoyed by the fragile romance between Emily and Ben, he emerges as an odd kind of philanthropist: the redeemer as control freak. Everyone wants a piece of him, and the tortured Mr. Thomas must determine who's worthy of receiving this communion. He's willing to give of himself, and all he asks in return is to be judge, jury, and executioner.

Serena Donadoni writes about film and culture for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 20, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation