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Movie Review: Seven Pounds

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Rosario Dawson and Will Smith and a big-ass dog. Photo Courtesy Sony Pictures.

The holiday box office season is generally a time for light-hearted, star-driven films that keep audiences engaged. After all, it is tough in this economic climate and with so few days before Christmas to take two hours out of your day to sit in a theater and really become involved in the characters on screen, even if the dialogue is upbeat and the main squeeze is totally that one guy from that one movie. The new Will Smith film Seven Pounds does an admirable job of two of these key elements, eschewing the easy-to-swallow fare in favor of meatier pieces for the audience to chew on.

In Seven Pounds, Smith plays Ben Thomas, a woebegone IRS agent with a definite (if undisclosed) agenda. Through cuts and jumps, we begin to piece together the back story of what exactly has brought Ben to such a place in his life, where his surroundings are in shambles and he relies on the crispness of a single suit and some IRS paperwork to get by. We also come to quickly see that Ben's actions are very specific, and mitigated on a single element of atonement. For what, it's unclear. But not unclear in that smokey art-house way where details are relegated to the second string while general themes duke it out on screen. Here the information is never lost, it is simply withheld, to be stored away like weight. And it is precisely when the action and plot (and Smith himself) truly begin to run that we see the energy of these previous scenes play out so beautifully, ensuring that film rife with cinematic conventions does not run out of breath.