It is testament to Will Smith's brand-name that he can bank a movie that is outside his core competence (drama rather than comedy), with a title and marketing campaign so evasive that the audience has little idea what to expect going into the film. I'm not going to spoil the mystery either: it's absolutely integral to the intellectual and emotional pay-off of the movie.
Suffice to say that SEVEN POUNDS is a daring film - crafting an emotionally uplifting drama out of a rather macabre and implausible premise. Director Gabriele Muccino and DP Philippe le Sourd follow a world-weary, driven Ben Thomas (Will Smith) around the California suburbs as he investigates the lives of seemingly random people. As the movie unfolds, we become as intrigued by Ben's motives as one of the targets of his investigation, a charming woman called Emily (Rosario Dawson). The remainder of the film is concerned with the development of their relationship despite the asymmetry of their knowledge about each other.
The camerawork is patient, slow and intimate and such is the native charm of Smith and Dawson that the movie is mysterious and romantic rather than sinister and saccharine. I love the faded, dusty, world-worn feel that the movie has. The acting is perfect throughout: Smith shows his range; Dawson her charm; and in smaller parts Barry Pepper ad Judyann Elder are memorable. Suffice to say that I think this is a worthwhile movie, and, despite my initial hesitation, I spent the final half hour in tears.
SEVEN POUNDS was released in 2008 in the US and Brazil. It is currently on release in Singapore, Australia, Germany, Peru, Portugal, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Estonia, Spain and the UK. It opens on January 28th in January and on February 6th in Israel, South Korea, Finland, Norway and Sweden. It opens on February 12th in Kazakhstan; February 19th in Croatia; February 21st in Japan; February 26th in Argentina and Greece; March 5th in Slovakia; and on March 12th in the Czech Republic and Poland.