Saturday, December 20, 2008
"Seven Pounds": Will Smith plays a man living out his Last Act; plenty of double meanings
Once in a while we see a film with a character making bizarre contacts with others, recalling backstories from his life, and we know he is heading for something, and the mystery is – what’s the big secret. Memento was a bit like this.
In “Seven Pounds” – a title with several meanings – Will Smith plays the Everyman, on a mission to pay back his karma. For a while we wonder if he really is some kind of supernatural angel. He could have been, but that would make a different movie and teach a different lesson. (No, there’s no real connection to the Seven Deadly Sins, or is there?) The film, from Columbia (with Overbrook Entertainment, Escape Artists and Relativity Media) is directed by Gabriele Muccino and written by Grant Neoporte. Will Smith is one of the producers of the film. The film is shot in full 2.35 to 1 and emphasizes dark, orange or “Titan-like” grim colors.
As the film begins, Ben Thomas (Will Smith), masquerading as an IRS agent, is taking a telemarketing call from a beef salesman Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson) who will be one of seven needy people to whom he says something like “you get me.” Later we’ll see Ezra show up playing a Baldwin as a “blind pianist” in lobbies, and Ben has figured out he was blind over the phone. The most important is Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a woman with cardiomyopathy and on a list for a heart transplant. (Think how much a heart weighs.) She may be the most obvious beneficiary. There's some interesting stuff involving operating old fashion lithograph presses, and it's odd that Ben knows how to fix one. There is the abandoned Hispanic woman in the LA barrio (Elpidia Carillo) who will become homeless. There is the best friend played by Barry Pepper. The film starts and stops and builds up in syncopated fashion, and we don’t learn about the horrific car wreck that set up his karma until toward the end.
The other interesting clue is the flea bag motel (the manager asks him “how many hours?” – I was asked that in 1985 in Birmingham, AL – and Ben says two weeks – and later he tells the manage her will die there – so the manager wants his money – got all that?) He also sets up an aquarium in the motel room, feeding fish to a pet box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), the most venomous creature on the planet. He gets some sack ice and fills up a bathtub. Perhaps the box jellyfish venom neutralizes the RH blood factors (although I don’t see that as fact anywhere). But you get what is going to happen.
Ben is on a mission, and feels very determined and involved in his mission. He is living his life to the fullest, but he knows that he is in his Last Act.