by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Even when I figured out the phenomenal ending to Seven Pounds, the movie still continued to entertain. Will Smith plays Ben Thomas, a complicated IRS tax collector with an unknown past that’s the crux of a movie where he’s out to redeem himself for a silly mistake that costs many lives. And I’ll try to review this movie, without giving away too much of the plot.
Although his motive for helping strangers isn’t overtly clear at the onset, Ben’s generosity is overwhelming. And as much as you know that Ben is helping those people who he feels need it most, he is suffering alone from an unimaginable loss, which is revealed through painful flashbacks.
Woody Harrelson is the first person to come in contact with Ben. Harrelson plays Ezra, a blind, online specialty meat dealer and piano player. The movie opens with Ben calling to complain about a botched order. But eventually it’s discovered that Ben is making it all up, in a ruse to figure out whether Ezra is a true individual, worthy of Ben’s help. Ben continues to follow Ezra, meddling in his business, while probably coming off as a stalker, since Ezra is blind.
However, the majority of the movie centers on Ben and the beautiful Rosario Dawson (Emily), who is suffering from congestive heart failure. He hunts her down at a hospital, even spying on her mostly unaware in her room, until he’s finally sitting at her kitchen table telling her he’ll suspend her IRS account for a few months, as she struggles with bills and anxiously waits for someone to die in order that she may hopefully live through a heart transplant.
Ben’s at once hot and cold with Emily, and they both seem to volley back and forth on an emotional roller coaster ride. Of course Emily is mystified by Ben’s kindness and attention, but he begins to grow on her. And once Ben relents and lets himself feel the love and vibes that Emily are dishing out, their relationship takes off. Their romantic exchanges are sweet, even as they appear as two lost souls, each equally looking to the other for strength, solace and support. A subsequent love scene between them is so masterfully done, very unlike what’s shown in most movies.
A woman who works for the government as a case manager for the Department of Children and Family Services and who had previously received a big gift from Ben helps him find Connie, a Latina with two young children who’s being abused by her live-in boyfriend. Connie witnesses Ben’s benevolence, when he relocates her to a new place, where he believes her “soul will heal.” She’s apprehensive at first, as Ben just seems to materialize from nowhere, offering salvation and what at first is deemed unsolicited help and advice.
It was good to see Michael Ealy as Ben’s brother, who throughout the movie hounds Ben about not being accessible. The two have a heated exchange where Ben tells Ealy to remember what he gave him, after Ealy complains about something that was taken from his house during Ben’s last visit. Ealy makes sense of it all for audience members near the end of Seven Pounds, when he ties all the loose ends together, including the confrontation with Ezra.
Seven Pounds bears out to be a holiday tear-jerker; and while some may say it’s a bit surreal, Smith expertly pulls it off. The movie turns out to speak to the unselfish generosity of man, even though Ben has a hidden, ulterior motive. But by the end of the movie, the audience learns that Ben pays a great cost in his quest for peace, redemption and forgiveness.
I wrote about Smith in Hancock this past summer, and he’s truly another type of Superhero in Seven Pounds. While he’s mean, depressing, intimidating and overbearing at turns (as he was in Hancock), wait a couple of minutes and he’s this loving, caring and generous, albeit semi-schizoid, soul.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is a veteran public relations and journalism professional and former journalism professor. She’s publicist for her daughter, Hip-Hop artist Psalm One. A native Chicago South Sider, Elaine was a recent University of Maryland Bio Ethics, Health Disparities & Clinical Trials Fellow and winner of a Black Press Messenger Award.
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