Editors' pick

Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
A depressed IRS agent (Will Smith) decides to repair his life by helping seven strangers.
Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Running time: 1:53
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Editorial Review

It's difficult to gauge exactly how much to say about "Seven Pounds," a film whose chief pleasure -- and it is a powerful one -- derives from the essential mystery surrounding the film's enigmatic title. What weighs seven pounds? And what does it have to do with the seven strangers sought out by the obviously troubled IRS agent Ben Thomas (Will Smith), who opens the film with this portentous voice-over narration:

"In seven days, God created the world. In seven seconds, I shattered mine."

It's a mystery that won't remain much of one for long, given the Internet chatter, the trailers, the celebrity interviews. Not to mention the fact that critics like me have to write about the damn thing. But I will try to do so without spoiling it for the people who want to walk into the theater, as I did, knowing as few specifics about this movie as possible.

Who is Ben Thomas? Early on, we see him conducting what can only be called, at best, unorthodox audits, and at worst, harassment of people who owe money to the feds.

Ben comes across as part stalker, part con man, posing creepily inappropriate questions one minute and then sweet-talking the next.

Hints are given, slowly, that something tragic has happened to him. Something that affected seven other people. And that now he's trying to make it right.

The movie is pretty unabashed about the all-but-corny sentiment: Each of us has something to give.

It's lucky Smith is such a good actor that he makes the character's contradictions a strength, not a weakness. It's one of the clearest portrayals of a character's doubt, and ultimate resolution, I've seen in a good long while.

You see, Ben isn't really the son of God, after all. Or even very much of a hero. He's just a man. And when it comes right down to it, the film asks, isn't that hard enough?

-- Michael O'Sullivan (Dec. 19, 2008)

Contains disturbing thematic content, bloody imagery and a scene of sensuality.