The first rule of Seven Pounds is, Don’t talk about Seven Pounds.
Not really, but the second teaming of gigastar Will Smith and Italian director Gabriele Muccino – following their schmaltzy but successful The Pursuit Of Happyness – is one of those films that it really does pay to enter into knowing as little about as possible. So stop reading now…
Still here? Don’t say we didn’t warn you… Seven Pounds opens strongly, intriguingly, on Smith in weepy, fretful close-up as he dials 911 to
report his own suicide, followed by a scene of a belligerent, less grubby Smith tormenting blind vegan beef salesman Woody Harrelson (yes, really…) down the phone, before shouting seven names… Go figure?
It’s what you’ll spend most of Seven Pounds doing, snatching the jigsaw-puzzle clues dribbled out by Grant Nieporte’s screenplay to piece together this peculiar story of Smith’s shabby-suited IRS tax collector-cum-stalker.
He’s haunted, he’s gentle, he’s a bit creepy but has the patience – and mission – of a saint: find a select group of ‘good’ people to help before topping himself.
Scenes of an earlier life flash by in warm-toned snippets, far from the fleapit motel he now shares with a box jellyfish.
All very tantalising – until the film enters its bloated mid-section and turns into a mawkish romance between Smith and Rosario Dawson’s sexy heart patient.
With Muccino spooning on the syrup, Dawson oozes vulnerability but isn’t a strong enough actress to make much of her thankless role. (Mind you, even Kate Winslet might have struggled with this material.)
But just when Smith is milking yet another painedgrimace close-up (like a man suffering from irritable bowel syndrome rather than a crisis of the soul), and you’re feeling bound for the lowest circle of tear jerking hell, Seven Pounds delivers the stomach-kicking revelation it’s been slowly building up to.
When it comes, it’s a stronger man than Total Film whose eyes don’t moisten at a manipulative but admiringly redemptive climax.