Film review: 'Seven Pounds' may be too heavy a burden for Will Smith's star power

2009-03-23 00:00

WILL Smith plays a man tortured by guilt after he caused the deaths of seven people, including his fiancŽe, in a car accident. Seven pounds refers, in a Shakespearean sense, to the way he has devised to make amends.

The film is deliberately slow to reveal its intentions, and repays careful watching after the opening in which Smith makes a 911 call to request an ambulance at the scene of a suicide - his own.

The film jumps back and forth in time in a way that is sometimes confusing, but to say too much about the plot would spoil the experience of gradually realising what Smith's character is planning to do.

Smith is an enormously popular actor, but he may be asking more here than many of his fans are willing to give. Several people left the theatre before the end of this film, perhaps too confused to care, or perhaps irked at Smith's rather annoying evocation of pain - a sort of puzzled frown. And at two hours, Seven Pounds is too long, too slow and too baffling to hold the attention of many. By the time you work out what he's planning, what he has done to achieve it and the inevitable result of his decisions, you may just be wishing for it to end. Seven Pounds is an illustration of the fact that actors can chafe against the limitations of their careers and wish for something deeper (if they are action stars) or something sillier (if they are arthouse stars), but that it often doesn't work (witness Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky or Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Mission: Impossible II). Smith has been lucky that he has had more crossover success than some - The Pursuit of Happyness was a big hit, for instance - but Seven Pounds may be a bit too far for his fans.

It's an interesting story, but the execution has problems.

Pay attention to the jellyfish, though.

***

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