Seven Pounds (2008)

(On TV, January 2015)  The problem beyond movies that crank up their drama beyond a reasonable threshold is that they either become funny or annoying.  Seven Pounds, to its credit, begins with a fascinating mystery: Who is this sad man, what has happened to him and what is he doing?  As the protagonist’s actions are revealed, though, the overwrought drama kicks in.  Are we being shamed in our loose morality by a fictional character so selfless?  By the time the ending rolls by, even the most sympathetic viewers will spot at least two or three major holes in the plot, and it takes a lot of forgiveness to be moved by the film’s extreme sentimentality.  Will Smith is actually pretty good in the lead role, stretching acting muscles seldom used during his career.  Opposite him, Rosario Dawson is unexpectedly captivating, while Michael Ealy makes an impression in a small role.  (One can’t say the same about Woody Harrelson, largely wasted in a generic role).  Some of the details of the film are interesting, and Gabriele Muccino’s direction is handled with skill.  Still, the impression left by the last few minutes of the film is one of increasing bewilderment, if not outright disbelief: By cranking up the dramatic stakes so ludicrously high, Seven Pounds undoes quite a bit of its careful quiet setup.  I’m just not sure it deserves the ending it reaches for.

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