Seven Pounds DVD

Saturday, 09 May 2009 10:23

In “Seven Pounds”, Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, a mysterious IRS investigator with a tragic past. He is a lonely man, coming to terms with the death of a wife he truly adored. On the face of it, Ben is following up on a list of people who have defaulted on their tax payments, but his actions have a subtext; he appears to be seeking out those with special needs, be they financial or medical.

 

Whilst he weighs up their financial statuses, he also plies them with questions that reveal what kind of people they are, and whether they deserve to be the beneficiaries of whatever gifts he might be offering. As the film progresses it gradually becomes clear that there is much more to Ben than meets the eye, culminating in a twist worthy of M Night Shyamalan’s better films.

 

Seven Pounds DVDWill Smith evidently likes balancing his entertaining but light-weight blockbusters with more thought-provoking and stretching fare, and “Seven Pounds” is definitely in the latter camp. It is a challenging film for both the actors and the viewers, dealing as it does with characters in desperate predicaments, with dark pasts, depressing presents or dismal futures.

Smith effectively plays two roles: on the one hand he’s a polite and professional IRS agent; on the other he’s a tormented soul, struggling to decide who on his list deserves to be rewarded, and desperately trying to stick to some unknown agenda that is slowly tearing him apart.

Early on in the film, Ben meets Emily Posa (a wonderfully delicate portrayal by Rosario Dawson). Emily has a congenital heart defect that means she lives each day fearing it could be her last. As with his other clients, Ben opens their encounter by remaining distant, but as time moves on a connection forms between them and their relationship blossoms, even though they both know it stands very little chance of surviving for long.

This relationship forms the heart of the movie, and thankfully it succeeds in gripping the audience on several levels. Most importantly, there is genuine chemistry between Smith and Dawson, and both commendably convey the gravity and bitter-sweet nature of their individual and mutual affairs. The closer they become, the greater the awareness that Emily’s weak heart is holding her back, and at the same time, Ben’s past and obscure plans for the future force him to continually keep his romantic aspirations in check. It is a dynamic that tugs at the heart strings and keeps the viewer glued to the screen to find out how it will be resolved.

The rest of the cast competently flesh out the periphery. Sleeper Cell’s Michael Ealy looks the part as Ben’s worried brother, Woody Harrelson convinces as a blind meat-telesales agent apparently muddling through as one of life’s losers, and Barry Pepper is Dan, Ben’s best friend and confidante.

Director Gabriele Muccino pulls it all together in a simple, unshowy style. In order to ensure the jaw-dropping twist pays off, and maintain the mystery surrounding Ben, the plot unfolds with occasional flashbacks. However, Muccino keeps his hands firmly on the reins, and the film never veers away from intrigue into confusion.

The director also prevents the film becoming too heavy by introducing a few lighter touches such as Emily’s enormous and absurdly inappropriate Great Dane, Duke, and a comical motel manager who preaches his establishment’s rules to Ben but cannot say “No” every time they are brazenly broken. Seven Pounds comes highly recommended; it is one of those films that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

The DVD and Blu-Ray releases, out on 25 May 2009, include a decent array of special features, including a director’s commentary, a multi-part making-of documentary, featurettes on casting the film, deadly Box Jellyfish and antique printing press machines (watch the movie to find out why!), four deleted scenes and a selection of trailers for other movies. The DVD retails for £19.99 and the Blu-ray for £24.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

"Seven Pounds" (Gabriele Muccino, 2008)

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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