I went to a screening of Seven Pounds tonight in Beverly Hills, thinking it might be a waste of time considering the blasting it's gotten by many of the critics. I was careful not to read any reviews, except for a couple of headlines, but since there seemed to be a consensus among a good deal of the film assessors I wasn't expecting much.
Well, as a TV and Film professional, I can only explain it away by making an analogy to the old saying, "Those who can, do, those who can't (in this case creatively work in the entertainment industry) become critics."
I'm not saying they're always wrong, but with Seven Pounds they definitely are. It's not a fabulous film and it's a bit tedious at times, but it's intriguing from the outset and holds you in suspense until the very end.
We open with Ben Thomas, played by the usually affable and winning Will Smith, in the midst of a dire circumstance followed by his character acting like a real asshole. He's an IRS agent and while I in no way want to remotely express a prejudice against this profession (do you think I'm crazy with tax return season coming up?), he gets involved in the lives of several people in a very questionable way.
In particular, he takes an interest in Emily Posa, played engagingly and in an often confused state by Rosario Dawson, who owes the government a bundle and is apparently on the list for a heart transplant. Ben's taking an interest in her is really a euphemism for what some might consider stalking, and we're not sure what's going on, nor do we have a real clue for much of the film.
In fact, most of the people he investigates are in some kind of trouble and it almost appears that this picture will be a sort of return to classic TV's The Millionaire show. This is mostly due to his interaction with best friend Dan, played by Barry Pepper, who is exhorted to carry out his legal instructions for the aforementioned Dawson, a blind man portrayed by Woody Harrelson, a dialysis patient played by Bill Smitrovich and a battered woman played by Elpidia Carrillo. One begins to think this is all because Ben Thomas has a terminal illness and is evidently not long for this world. Or is he? Well, you'll just have to go see the film to find out.
Seven Pounds is as much a love story as a whodunit and a tale of redemption. What is Ben Thomas' motivation and what does he hope to get? Even while treading water through some of the soapier scenes, and there are a few -- but not too many, you never want to leave your seat, because there could be a piece of the puzzle you just might miss.
Writer Grant Nieporte and Director Gabriele Muccino have provided a satisfying and somewhat different take on a romantic thriller, maybe not on the level of North By Northwest, because no one's on the verge of getting murdered, but the precipice of circumstances upon which Smith and Dawson have to maneuver are no less daunting than Mount Rushmore.
Seven Pounds has gotten an unfair and raw deal from a lot of critics, with some exceptions. However, this writer advises that you may very well be more than satisfied.
Michael Russnow's web site is www.ramproductionsinternational.com