Film review: Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith

Quick update on the new Will Smith film which I had the mixed pleasure of seeing yesterday evening. Given its premise, the less you know about it the better, although if you want a brief synopsis, sums it up in one sentence which nonetheless gives some indication of what to expect. That said, if you're accustomed to much cinema-going, you'll probably realise pretty quickly what's going on, in spite of the deliberately obscure narrative and gradual drip feed of information.

This was the crux of my problem with SEVEN POUNDS, along with the overriding impression that my buttons were being pressed every step of the way. Call me cynical, but surely nobody likes feeling emotionally manipulated, even by the ever-appealing Will Smith?

From the outset we are aware that Smith's IRS (Inland Revenue Service) tax officer is palpably weighed down by some heavy burden, and the fact that he's seeking out very sick or disabled people reinforces the atmosphere of doom and gloom. Smith has always had the knack of creating empathetic characters, and it is in no small part due to his likeability that the overabundance of wounded looks (mostly accompanied by mournful music) still strike a chord. In less capable hands, I would have dismissed the story as oversentimental tosh. As it stands, Smith's performance, and his convincing rapport with the truly excellent Rosario Dawson (whose character suffers from a serious heart defect) lift this in parts beyond soulsearching melodrama.

During one scene, Smith and Dawson lie in bed playing a game of 'What If?' and the intimacy and poignancy of the moment is lump-in-the-throat inducing. And there are a few fleeting moments of levity when you can actually crack a smile. However, the fact that the outcome seems so clearly signposted, along with the deliberate tugging of heartstrings, ultimately frustrated my attempt to indulge in this as a proper, old-fashioned weepie. Call me a cynic but overall then, a watchable film that, in spite of good intentions, simply tries too hard.


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