Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson,
Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper. Rated PG-13.
Will Smith has played an alcoholic superhero, a mystical
caddie and a fighter pilot on a mission to save the planet from aliens, but Ben
Thomas, the guilt-ridden do-gooder at the heart of Seven Pounds, might just be the
most unbelievable role of them
When we meet Ben, a few things about him seem immediately
clear. He attacks his job as an I.R.S. tax collector with an exuberance that
some might consider grounds for harassment. He is rich beyond reason, though
the source of his income remains a mystery. (Government work simply doesn’t pay
that well, even in the executive
office.) And while he spends his days plotting to help the needy – a blind
pianist here, an abused wife there – nothing seems to bring a smile to his
face. There is pain lingering behind his plaintive brown eyes, and his
melancholy monotone suggests a man who has barely survived some unspeakable
Ben meets Emily (Rosario Dawson), a wedding-invitation
designer with a heart of gold that is quickly corroding thanks to a congenital
condition. Her rare blood type makes a transplant unlikely, but Ben is
undeterred. He takes to helping her with odd jobs, walking her Great Dane and
weeding her garden. A romance seems inevitable, but Ben remains curiously
detached, either unwilling to make the first move or unmoved by her obvious
Why? What is Ben’s connection to Emily, or to the
soft-spoken pianist (Woody Harrelson) he cruelly berates on the phone? Where
does his money come from? Why does he keep his brother (Michael Ealy) and best
friend (Barry Pepper, on hand to provide timely histrionics) at arm’s length?
Why are they in this movie at all?
But I digress. Seven Pounds raises so many questions that to list them all would require far more
space than I am willing to devote to them. (Even understanding its title
demands a small bit of detective work.) Suffice it to say that Ben has his
reasons, most of which are hurriedly explained – some satisfactorily, some not
– during a whirlwind denouement that tugs at the heartstrings a bit too
vigorously. Ben, it turns out, may not be the guardian angel he first appears,
but his maudlin odyssey is so far-fetched it just might be otherworldly.