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IN SHORT: for the art house. [Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content and a scene of sensuality. 122 minutes]
Imagine yourself in a museum, with four beautiful pictures hanging in a gallery. Every day you walk past them; they're nice enough but nothing special. Then, one day, you notice a detail in one of the pictures and you are transfixed and drawn in and nothing about your world and the daily experience of walking past the four pictures will ever be the same.
In other words, something happens in the tepid Will Smith starrer Seven Pounds that makes the film a totally different viewing experience. Know for a fact, that if Cranky spills the details of the one moment that transforms director Gabriele Muccino's film you will hate him as much as the dim bulb that spoiled the ending of any major film seen in your lifetime. Yeah, it's a real "Rosebud is the ----" moment. As you get closer and closer to that moment, even knowing exactly what is about to happen, you will find that Seven Pounds is not the total stinker your guts have been telling you it is.
It did have us wasting too much time wondering when Will Smith would make another comedy. That is how uninvolved Seven Pounds was, for us.
Then again, Seven Pounds continues a pattern of films in which Smith portrays a protagonist in a terrible personal position who manages to bring about a positive and, perhaps, emotionally uplifting resolution to his problems. In the case of Ben Thomas (Will Smith) the personal position is in a location buried under tons of personal guilt for something we won't spill. The viewer knows from minute one that Thomas is about to do something to his person that, assuming he is a religious man, will send him straight to Hell. As an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, Thomas knows a little bit about putting innocent taxpayers through the wringer. He has a list of seven names, some of whom are provided by contacts spread throughout the governmental systems. He is determined to do good for the Seven, perhaps as a way to beg forgiveness for forthcoming mortal sins. [Cranky thinks that is how it goes. T'ain't our Tribe...]
Of the Seven lucky dudes and dudettes, the film focuses on three: Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind concert pianist whose pay the rent job as a consumer services rep for a meat-by-mail company brings him into direct, over-the-phone conflict with Mr. Thomas. From Thomas' end, the conversation is verbally abusive to the nth power with our so-called "hero" determined to crush Turner with no holds barred. The second target is Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), mother of two with a live-in abusive boyfriend; Finally, there is Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), who suffers from a congenital heart defect that will eventually kill her. Emily manages to win Thomas' heart without even trying and, in doing so, sets up the "you won't see it coming" ending that we figured out well in advance. . . and dismissed as too outrageous an idea. That's why we don't write screenplays (no imagination <g>).
You know it's December when popular, likeable and extremely talented artists like Will Smith take on despicable character roles with virtually no redeeming values and makes the audience suffer for two hours while that split-hair-thin chance for redemption is teased into a spark and then into a flame. Kind of like what Tom Hanks did in Cast Away (though Hanks had no personality problems to deal with).
And WHY is it always in December that these despicable character assault a paying audience again and again and again and again and again? O.... you know the answer to that question. Will's audience hasn't turned their back on this indulgence, yet. Then again, Will's audience doesn't get the joy (sic) of sitting through a dozen similar self-indulgent performances as we do, since we get some say (and it's a very teeny tiny little say) in that awards process.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Seven Pounds, he would have paid . . .
Art house. fiends will adore Seven Pounds. Smith keeps making Films, with a capital art house "f" for them. They are not the audience that has supported this site for the last decade plus.
Seven Pounds is, we would guess, the weight of a human heart. It's always been a linguistic metaphor that when one falls in love he/she gives away the heart. Carry that thought into the theater with you, if you must. It may help.
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