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Review: Seven Pounds

A gimmicky tale annoyingly told
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  January 6, 2009
1.5 1.5 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for Seven Pounds

Will Smith's previous film with director Gabriele Muccino, The Pursuit of Happyness, was a tale well told. Their new one is a gimmicky tale annoyingly told.

Like Happyness, it depicts a man with a hidden life, a notion central to Smith's debut, Six Degrees of Separation. Smith's kindly IRS investigator links case studies of good people with grave health problems; the audience is meant to ponder why he gets so involved in these people's lives. Smith has rarely appeared so vulnerable on screen; Muccino, on the other hand, gives Grant Nieporte's tearjerker script the two-fisted-compassion treatment of movies like Crash and Babel, which smack us upside the head in order to move us. When things finally calm down, the romance between Smith and Rosario Dawson's heart patient is fleetingly affecting.

Although the manipulative score is a major flaw, one highlight is musical — a piano love theme has a deliberately sour note, as if a key were damaged. It's a subtle metaphor, evincing a trust in the audience that's otherwise absent.

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