Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Seven Pounds (2008)

Seven Pounds: 2008: USA
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Barry Pepper & Woody Harrelson

911 emergency...
I need an ambulance.
I have you at 9212 West Third Street in Los Angeles.
That’s room number 2.
What’s the emergency?
There’s been a suicide...
Who’s the victim?
...I am.

My brother said to me, "hey Oli, there's a movie called Seven Pounds on TV tonight. Wanna watch it?" To which I replied "um...ok." So yes, I did watch this film on commercial television with an abundance of ads, but I guess that the true test of a film is to notice if you is still able to engage with it despite the constant bombardment of voiceovers and actors telling you that you need a new... whatever. Seven Pounds has past that test.

It is difficult to explain the story line without spoiling it because it runs in several different time lines, beginning with the main character's suicide. The film later goes on to explore the final stages of Ben's life and the decisions he makes based on previous events. It's a complicated way of producing films (beginning with the end) but it has indeed been pulled off by Muccino. Similar to his inspiring and empowering Pursuit of Happyness which also features Will Smith, Gabriele Muccino has created a fine piece of footage that challenges the viewer’s perception of human limits and humanity. The under-lying message that we can make up for our mistakes is also evident in Seven Pounds.

The film is very similar to Pursuit of Happyness in terms of cinematography. It contains the same "early morning," "vibrant gold and brown" lighting effects that attempt to in force hope and inspiration. Both also feature similar writing and structure and Will Smith's character Ben is very alike Chris from the Pursuit of Happyness. Where this film separates itself from other Muccino works is the complex storyline.

The prime number seven plays a significant, reoccurring role to the storyline, not only representing the seven lives Ben must 'save,' but also the importance of origins of the film and the sacrifices Ben makes. With this, we constantly see the inclusion of more and more characters, each with an important role to play. Along with characters, we also gain a border understanding of the film as it progresses. This keeps the film interesting and unpredictable, which is what I want to see in a good movie.

Will Smith always seems to play the same character. A loner with a distort past that continues to haunt him. He's a man on a mission in all of his films, always needing to prove himself. The character Ben is just the same as Del from I-Robot, Robert from I Am Legend or even Oscar from Shark Tale. Having said that, I do like Smith as an actor and he delivers a fine performance, as always. Other characters felt very relevant and well developed. Acting from all actors were a specially good in this film.

My favourite films are the ones that make you take a step back and just think for a bit. This film is very deep, containing a lot of considerably heavy themes and is very confronting. The is a lot of reading-between-the-lines that is needed to truly enjoy this film. Elements of the film feel very unrealistic and Hollywood at times. In no way do I support suicide and I have mixed emotions about the ending, and thus beginning, of this film. But if you prepare yourself and sick it out you'll get a real good kick and hopefully take something meaningful away from it. I did.

***1/2 (3.5/5)

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