December 20, 2008


Filed under: — sbj @ 7:46 pm

Last night I went and saw 7 Pounds. Since that time I have been trying to reconcile what I think. What follows is a glimpse into that process. Let me say right now there are spoilers in here… big-fat-ruin-the-movie-for-you-if-you-have-not-seen-it spoilers. Since a huge part of this movie is not knowing what the hell is going on… it will, in fact, more than likely ruin the movie for you if you read on. If you’re fine with that… go for it… if not… go back, you are going the wrong way.

I will start with the biggest spoiler of them all… he dies. Not that vague type of death which is somewhat disputable, where there is some hope he will turn up later because the circumstances are not totally clear (i.e. drives off a cliff in a car, or gets thrown into the middle of the ocean), but a certain and indisputable death.

Normally, I clamor, crave, and cheer for this type of ending, so this, in and of itself, did not disappoint. I think there are too many “Hollywood” endings and like it when you are occasionally left with a feeling of loss.

However, the circumstances of this particular death, I struggle with.

Enter spoiler number 2, he dies (and by dies, I mean he commits suicide) in order to donate his heart to a woman he has (begun to) fall(en) in love with (and, in a side plot, his eyes to a blind man). We find out after his death that he has also donated a lung to his brother, half of his liver to someone else… and maybe more that I missed.

Spoiler number 3 is that he is doing all of this because of the guilt he feels for killing his wife and 6 other motorists in a traffic accident caused by him (he was reading email on his blackberry).

The movie itself was a little slow and lacked the comic fill moments you would expect from a Will Smith movie. Certainly this is not supposed to be a Hitch or MIB, but I’m not sure I laughed even once throughout the movie. If I did, I have forgotten it. It was a drama in the most literal sense of the word.

I like a good drama, I’m just not sure this was a good drama. The acting was okay, although not exemplary but in a drama the acting is secondary to the message anyway. Unfortunately I have some serious issues with the message. His character was not terminal… he simply had decided that his life was not worth living and therefore would take the useful parts (organs) and allocate them to other before terminating his own life.

This is basically the story of horrible guilt and depression completely enveloping a man and what happens if such a man is given enough latitude to be the instrument of his own destruction.

It would be one thing If he had fallen in love with his romantic interest and then decided to give up his heart (not that I like that message either, but it would have been positively motivated, at least), but this is not the case. He chose her to be the recipient having never met or seen her. She was simply the result of a query of an IRS database (did I mention he did all of this while violating federal laws impersonating an IRS agent).

I think we are supposed to think he did a good thing. There were some character development moments where they attempted to make us forget the bad things going on, and of course, he is Will Smith, so we are sort of required to like him and root for him. I think we are supposed to be moved by his self-sacrifice, generosity and, well, penance. That didn’t work for me. What I saw was a pitiful soul throwing a potentially valuable life down the drain instead of owning his mistakes, learning from them and getting on with life. To me, the message is about as bad as it could possibly be, and I find myself wondering what someone like Will Smith (who I tend to respect) saw in the script that I am missing.

The saving grace of this film (the reason it does not get a flat 1) is that the argument can be made that it is a candid look at depression, guilt and what havoc they are capable of wreaking on a soul. In fact, if it had been billed as such, and not invested so much time trying to make him into a god guy… I probably would have given it a much higher rating.

As much as I love Will Smith… I have to give this movie a 2 on the 1 to 6 o’meter.

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