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The Essential Guide to Bristol
13 February 2009
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Seven Pounds (12A)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/01/2009

One out of Five stars
Running time: 120 mins

Ill conceived, poorly written and badly directed drama, featuring a career worst performance from Will Smith.

What's it all about?
Directed by Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness), Seven Pounds stars Will Smith as Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who's on an urgent, personal and mysterious mission to help seven total strangers. The seemingly unconnected seven include: blind Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), domestic abuse victim Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo) and Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a beautiful young woman with a heart condition.

The Bad
The story unfolds using a fractured chronology (see also 21 Grams), so we only get tiny hints as to what Ben might be up to and what his possible motive might be. That said, if you pay attention during the opening credits, it's not all that hard to work out, even if it doesn't really make that much sense.

The film's biggest problem is the pacing. Muccino slows the action right down so that each scene seems to go on forever and nothing really happens, beyond a love story eventually developing between Ben and Emily. The dialogue doesn't help either – it's frequently tedious and occasionally downright embarrassing, such as an early scene in which Ben abuses Ezra over the phone (one of several scenes that doesn't really make sense).

The Worst
Another problem is that once you figure out what Ben's actually up, the whole film takes on a rather sanctimonious tone that only gets worse as the climax approaches. It also doesn't help that Smith gives perhaps his least appealing performance to date. We know nothing about Ben and Smith deliberately downplays his usual charisma, so that we're left with almost nothing to cling on to.

As if all that wasn't bad enough, the script short-changes two characters (Barry Pepper and Bill Smitrovich) so badly that you have no idea what they're doing in the story. And on top of that, it also contains perhaps the screen's most unintentionally giggle-inducing suicide attempt.

Worth seeing?
In short, Seven Pounds is a boring, sanctimonious and badly conceived mess. Avoid like your life depended on it.

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Seven Pounds (12A)
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