It is always an awkward situation to watch an actor try too hard at a role that is simply not meant for him. Smith is without a doubt a very talented actor, and has been slowly transitioning from his all-American leading man image that put him on the map (“Independence Day”, “Men in Black”), to the serious thespian method-acting image that should give his career the longevity that he deserves (“Ali”, “I Am Legend” and “The Pursuit of Happiness”). In “Seven Pounds” however, he simply misses the mark. Smith spends the entire movie with an eerie beaten down look in his eyes, and never lets go of it, whether he’s smiling, laughing or making love. His ability to do something casual while looking like he is about to commit suicide is uncanny and deserves appraise, however his one-trick-pony performance gets old fast. By the time the credits roll, you end up relieved to not have to look at his depressing doom-and-gloom look on his face rather than being touched by his character’s fate.
That being said, the movie’s flaws do not all rest on Smith’s shoulders. The script is a condescending mess, trying to be mysterious and subtle and yet feeling transparent and predictable. Watching “Seven Pounds” is like waiting for a surprise that you know is coming for 2 very slowly paced and depressing hours. Its fragmented narrative comes off as a pretentious gimmick instead of refined moviemaking and simply takes away from the raw emotions that should emanate effortlessly from such heavy-handed material.
The one redeeming factor of the movie is Rosario Dawson. It is a shame that such a moving, delicate and textured performance is lost in this mess of a film. Dawson has never delivered a bad performance, but this one is spectacular. The vulnerability, the humanity, the emotional rollercoaster that she embarks the audience on is a beautiful heart-warming ride. It is a shame that none of her costars were able to follow in her footsteps.
Overdramatic, overindulgent and overacted, “Seven Pounds” is simply overweight.
Review by Ralph Arida