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I haven’t seen any new movies lately, so I’ll review one I saw a while ago that I just never got around to writing about. And since this movie didn’t fare as well as expected at the box office, chances are many of you have been missing out.

seven pounds movie poster

Seven Pounds is a film unlike any I’ve seen in a long time. It follows the journey of a man named Ben Thomas (Will Smith) who’s on a mission to change the lives of seven strangers. But not just any group of seven; he’s interested only in those truly in need, are noble and not likely to take his gifts for granted. Because you see, he isn’t on a mission to dole out donations, but to drastically alter the circumstances of these individuals.

Ben’s existence is seeped in mystery and the questions dart forth from the very beginning. For example, why is he trying to change lives? Why does he hole himself up in a lowly motel room? Why is he avoiding his brother? And what deal did he make with his best friend? His character is a complex one; serious, mysterious, strange and saintly. Smith skillfully plays his part – a man troubled by personal demons, whose emotional inferno is carefully concealed by a placid exterior.  His motives are initially unclear and figuring him out is like solving a Sudoku puzzle, on level hard.

will-and-rosario-2That difficult task is left up to Rosario Dawson, whose stunning presence is a seduction of the senses. She glows with an angelic radiance that highlights an otherwise morose and gloomy film. The chemistry between Smith and Dawson entirely anchors the film’s emotional angle, lending reasonable credibility to the movie’s central conflicts. Credible, however unrealistic. If it seems I’m being overly vague about the important details, there’s a reason for it.

will-and-rosario6I read in another review that this movie is best viewed without prior knowledge of the film, and I completely agree. It’s better to go in knowing as little as possible so you can submit yourself to the films surprises. Mind you, these “surprises” may be predictable to saavier viewers. Admittedly, I was able to guess the ending halfway through the film. (Ok, so being saavy has nothing to do with it!) But even as the climax approaches the viewer’s line of vision long before it arrives, the emotional impact is still unexpected. And that’s the strength of this movie.

But it is far from perfect. Employing a slow place, somber mood and non-linear trajectory, the film draws us in, while keeping us at a safe distance – like a magician urging us to stay back while insisting we pay close attention. That divide between viewer and viewed may induce restlessness and even frustration because we don’t feel truly involved; we’re merely spectators blindly navigating an aimless maze.

In the end however, there lies a greater message. And if you can forgive the preachiness, sometimes tediousness and even – dare I say – weirdness of the whole film, there’s a powerful commentary on the gift of life, of selflessness and sacrifice. If you think too hard about the small details you’ll invariably get confused – but if you let yourself feel the emotional weight of the film, your heart will thank you for it.