By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Seven Pounds” is being marketed as a suspense picture, but in fact it’s a sobering love story with an ending that is sure to split audience reactions.
Director Gabriele Muccino uses a mixture of narrative styles to tell the story of Ben Thomas, played by Will Smith, an IRS agent who reveals in the opening scene that his life was shattered in seven seconds. Through a series of flashbacks the audience learns that Ben is responsible for a car accident that killed his fiance and six other people.
The movie follows Ben as he attempts to make up for the accident by changing the lives of seven complete strangers. Ben is a tormented, angry soul who has had to live with the night of the accident for years. Smith usually plays very likeable characters so its not easy to see him playing a person who has become so disconnected from the world.
The flashbacks show that before the accident Ben was happy, confident and successful. Here is where Smith displays his more familiar movie persona. Back in present day, however, Ben is sullen, moody and joyless until he meets Emily, played by Rosario Dawson.
Emily and Ben embark on a tender friendship that soon blossoms into a love affair. It’s the kind of love story that will make some women weep, and that is what makes the ending that much harder to swallow. Smith navigates the complex emotions of Ben’s character with an understated power that is fascinating to watch. Dawson is vulnerable and sweet as Emily and the two have solid chemistry together.
Any criticism of this movie is solely based on a disagreement with how the story ends. In terms of direction, the script and the performances, all are strong. Some may want the movie to end differently than it does, but that does not diminish its effectiveness.