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Seven Pounds

Year: 2008
Studio: Columbia
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Grant Nieporte
Cast: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper

I found myself wondering at what point everyone else figured out the answer behind this mystery, and I still think the film is much stronger for not laying it all out in an expositionary scene with sweeping music and emotional manipulation. The story assumes you'll get it at some stage and doesn't clobber you over the head with it.

In fact the whole film is like that, and as the telling of a story (and not just a movie) it's a huge success, letting such subtleties propel the mystery a little each time, the great acting doing the rest.

It's one of those films I found myself imagining without it's A list cast, and everything stands up, as opposed to a movie like Candy which I found interesting only to see big names in such roles. It's possible to watch Seven Pounds for story and not stars. I still think of it as the small, emotional indie movie that happens to have Will Smith in it.

He plays a somber, mysterious man who supposedly works for the IRS but is on a more personal mission we're not privy to. All we know is that he's suffered some tragedy, he has a list of names, and his every waking moment is dedicated to his strange task at hand.

Talking too much about what happens would give everything away, but the various talismans and anchors that pepper the story give clues, such as the venomous jellyfish, the repeated theme of illness and the family Ben (Smith) doesn't want to connect with.

When you realise what he's doing, you hope the redemption building will overtake Ben's desire to carry out his task, but when the redemption itself, in the shape of love interest Emily (Dawson) becomes the most urgent reason he has for completing it, the emotional stakes run high.

Tics of Smiths performance, a talent for acting rather than just being a leading man that we haven't seen much of thus far except for his work in Ali, combine with a languid pace and directorial mood from his Pursuit of Happyness director Muccino to make a sad and affecting film.

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