Reviewing "Seven Pounds"

Seven Pounds.jpg

Tim Thomas (Will Smith) seemed to have a fairytale life: a beautiful wife, a breathtaking beach house, and a wonderful job as an aerospace engineer. However, like you and me Tim Thomas is human and has made mistakes. It is one particular mistake that changes both his life and the lives of seven people forever.

While driving one night, Tim is distracted by his cell phone and loses control of his vehicle and causes an accident that kills seven people including his wife. Unable to forgive himself, Tim embarks on a mission to make amends for his mistake. He devises a plan and decides that he will select seven strangers and give them unique, life-changing gifts.

Using the identity of his brother, Ben Thomas (Michael Ealy), Tim poses as an IRS agent to confirm that the seven strangers he has chosen are indeed deserving of his gifts. These seven strangers are a diverse group of people that includes an abused single mother and Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind customer service representative.

Tim’s plan is not without complications and nearly goes off track when he falls in love with Emily (Rosario Dawson), one of his seven recipients. Despite the romantic hiccup, Tim executes his plan and distributes his gifts with the help of a loyal friend, Dan (Barry Pepper).

Smith co-produced Seven Pounds and teamed up once again with the director and producers who brought us The Pursuit of Happyness. True to form Smith delivers an outstanding, emotional performance.

I must admit that I went to see this film for superficial reasons: I find Will Smith dreamy and ever since his days on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I have had a never-ending crush on him. Personal biases aside, this film has something to please the palates of all movie aficionados: love, suspense, a captivating story, tragedy, and a dubious title.

An online query for the meaning of “seven pounds” led me everywhere from references to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to bloggers’ pontifications on the significance of the number seven. In the end, I’m still not sure what it means, but the sheer brilliance of the film surely overshadows any confusion surrounding its title.

Seven Pounds is rated PG-13, but I am not so sure this is a film for the entire family. Although explicit language and sexual content are kept to a minimum, the film definitely targets a mature audience because of its serious subject matter. It raises some rather poignant, existential questions about the value of life, friendship, and restitution. This powerful film will make you think and possibly shed a few tears.

Sometimes you can tell how good a film is by the response it gets in a crowded theater. Usually at the end of a film there is mad rush to the exit. My experience was far different. I remember sitting in a dark theater with the credits rolling, and no one left their seats. I could hear some sniffles, but there was just an overwhelming feeling of awe in the room. Perhaps people were thinking about the mistakes they had made in life. Maybe they were thinking about how they were going to make things right, but they were all deep in thought.

Seven Pounds
does an amazing job of both maintaining suspense and keeping the audience engaged. The story is unique, and I tip my hat to writer Grant Nieporte for creating such originality.

The online and television trailers only reveal that Tim is living with a “secret,” and throughout the film, you will likely keep guessing. Only at the very end of the film is his secret disclosed and his gifts finally given. I would be doing you a tremendous disservice if I spoiled the plot and revealed the nature of the gifts, so instead I strongly encourage you to see this film. All I will say is that the selflessness of Tim Thomas’s giving truly changes the lives of the seven strangers and Tim’s own life as well.

I most liked the remarkable humanness of Tim Thomas’s character. Often I find that protagonists in major box office films are caricatures rather than characters, and although they are entertaining they often lack genuine human qualities.

Tim Thomas is about as real as they come. He has no superhuman characteristics (unless, of course, you count his being freakishly handsome), and life’s pressures weigh on him significantly. Most of us can relate to Tim Thomas’ character because we have all made mistakes that we wish we could either take back or offer some kind of compensation greater than any apologetic phrase allowed by the English language.

Seven Pounds is also a reminder of what Mom and our Cradle Roll teachers used to tell us: “Actions speak louder than words.” Tim Thomas made a terrible mistake, and he did something to make it right. I in no way mean to condone what he did or suggest that his action is the appropriate compensation for his mistake, but I think his decision to act is truly commendable.

This film made me pause and ask myself how far I would be willing to go to make amends for mistakes that I’ve made. I wonder what would happen if the phrase “I’m sorry” (and its close cousin “my bad”) were no longer available us and we had to apologize through our actions.

It is far easier to say “I’m sorry” than it is to live one’s life remorsefully, and Tim Thomas’ story shows just how hard it is.

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Sat, 05/10/2014 | San Diego Adventist Forum
Monique Vincent, PhD candidate, University of Chicago

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