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Seven Pounds


Stars: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Barry Pepper, Woody Harrelson, Elpidia Carrillo, Michael Ealy

Director: Gabriele Muccino

The makers of this weepie ask us not to reveal too much of the plot, which is strange as the story is straightforward and its developments, though sometimes effectively tugging at our tear-ducts, are predictable enough from the moment Smith is seen at the beginning, phoning to report a suicide - his own.

Admittedly, to explain the title would give away the nature of the film's closing scenes, so we'll just say that it's obvious from the start that Ben (a 'new look', more conventionally handsome Smith) is, in spite of his rages and spells of melancholy, a nice guy.

A Treasury agent whose wife was killed in a car crash, Ben has a list of names and seems to be seeking to do good for those most in need. He helps an elderly lady being bullied at her nursing home, then encounters Emily (Dawson), a congenital heart disease victim who feeds her Great Dane on steamed broccoli and tofu. Pooh! She owes money, but he freezes her debt accounts as uncollectable and they strike up a warm friendship, though Ben seems reluctant to commit further.

Meanwhile his brother (Ealy) is furious at being kept in the dark over what's going on, and a friend (Pepper) keeps being told by Ben to stick to what he promised.

This is well acted - Smith and Dawson are both admirably natural - but laboured in the telling, seeming to run closer to three hours than two. Too many one-on-one conversations slow it further, and the film only just manages to knit its several disparate elements together. Thanks to the leading actors, though, the more touching moments do draw the expected tear.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
125 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Jan 2009