Apparently, actor Will Smith enjoyed working with his "Persuit of Happyness" director Gabriele Muccino enough to work with him again only a couple of years afterwards. Once again, their collaboration has resulted in a moody, emotional drama - only this time around, they've also produced a bit of a mystery.
For "Pounds", Smith plays Ben Foster, an IRS agent who seemingly spends his days choosing a series of several people down on their luck to contact and help - like some sort of tearjerker version of "My Name is Earl". One of them is a blind beef telemarketer - Ben verbally tears him apart over the phone, only to find that the man doesn't even get slightly upset in return. Another woman, Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), is suffering from a heart ailment that will be terminal unless she can find a transplant.
There are five others, as well - good people that have had a difficult time, and who Ben only wants to help. The trailer for the film was vague - Will Smith plays a guy who wants to help people, but has a secret - and, I suppose, for good reason - there really isn't much more to the story than that. That's not to say that stretches of the picture aren't compelling, but while watching the movie, I almost wondered if it wouldn't have been a better fit for the stage than for the big screen.
The cynic in me would like to say that this is a play at an Oscar from Smith, who continues to want to prove himself as more than just an actor who opens action movies on the 4th of July. Smith is a terrific dramatic actor, but there's something about "Seven Pounds" that takes things a little too far in its attempt to show that Smith can be a Serious Actor.
The picture is heavy, and Smith tries to play a character on a deep, powerful emotional journey - and yet, the whole enterprise has moments where it can come off as being a little gloomy for the sake of gloomy. That's not to say that the picture is manipulative; "Pounds" could have really laid on the sappiness, but it remains fairly grounded and tries to let the actors do the heavy lifting. Smith offers a fine performance, but I have to say I found some of his scenes in "I Am Legend" more powerful. Dawson's the most pleasant surprise of the film, as her portrayal of a woman attempting to find inner strength in the midst of illness is touching and genuine. She plays off Smith well, and the two have great chemistry in their scenes together.
Overall, "Seven Pounds" walks the line fairly well. The story is on the thin side, has a few holes and goes a bit too glum (I'm not saying the material should be sunny, but this starts heavy and rarely lets up.) Flaws aside, Smith delivers a good performance, and is backed up by a solid supporting cast (with Dawson as the highlight.)
VIDEO: "Seven Pounds" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Most scenes displayed pleasing sharpness and detail - while a few moments looked a tad softer than the rest, this may have been an intentional choice. As for flaws, a few traces of edge enhancement were seen, but the majority of the presentation was free of issues - no print flaws, pixelation or additional issues were seen. The picture's somewhat cool color palette looked spot-on, as did flesh tones.
SOUND: "Seven Pounds" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. As one might expect, this was a largely dialogue-driven presentation. The sound mix opened up a bit during a few of the outdoor scenes, as the surrounds delivered minor ambience, but the audio was otherwise entirely front-heavy. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and crisp, well-recorded score.
EXTRAS: Director Gabriele Muccino offers an informative commentary for the film, discussing story issues, working with the cast, development, behind-the-scenes stories and much more. We also get "Seven Views on Seven Pounds", a multi-part documentary that profiles the work of some of the main crew members (editor, writer, director, etc.) "Seven Views" runs a total of a little over 30 minutes. "Creating the Perfect Ensemble" is a look at casting the picture, running only a few minutes. We also get a featurette on the Box Jellyfish and "The Art of the Printing Press" featurette. Rounding out the extras are four deleted scenes and trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Seven Pounds" walks the line fairly well. The story is on the thin side, has a few holes, but Smith delivers a good performance, and is backed up by a solid supporting cast (with Dawson as the highlight.) The DVD boasts fine audio/video quality, as well as a nice assortment of extras. Recommended for fans, while those who have not yet seen the film should rent first.
The Film B