© Sony Pictures Releasing GmbH

Sieben Leben (Seven Pounds)
U.S.A. 2008

Opening 8 Jan 2009

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Writing credits: Grant Nieporte
Principal actors: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper

“In seven days God made the world, and in seven seconds, I shattered mine.” Ben Thomas (Will Smith) has a secret. He dials 911… we go back in time. We watch Ben access IRS files, selectively choosing unrelated people to contact. Ben is pleasant, smiles kindly, converses nicely, nonetheless is cruel to authenticate information; his flashbacks are incongruent, compound the mystery and, give us clues.

From their first meeting onward, ailing Emily Posa’s (Rosario Dawson) genuineness manages to warm Ben’s cold heart; although blind, Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson) baffles Ben by his kind heartedness. Flashback. Checking on nursing-home director Stewart Goodman’s (Tim Kelleher) accounts, Ben encounters neglected resident Inez (Fiona Hale). We puzzle over who is this man and what does he want? A flashback to the Monterrey Aquarium when Ben was an adolescent is a clue. Coach George Ristuccia (Bill Smitrovich) and young, bald Nicholas (Quintin Kelley) are both hospitalized and, somehow, pertinent.

Initially wary, when she has a crisis Emily turns to Ben; unbeknownst to her he is a man with a mission and this does not fit in – or does she? Ben visits social worker Holly Apelgren (Judyann Elder) who points him to battered Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo). What do these seven people have in common? Even Ben's brother (Michael Ealy) is perplexed. Only lifelong best friend Dan (Barry Pepper) knows, and he is not telling us.

Written by Grant Nieporte with Gabriele Muccino directing, the story’s premise, guilt, is intriguing. The early breakneck tempo maneuvers us from clue to clue. Technically solid, with strong performances, this film’s nemesis is length, which dilutes both story and pacing. By the time we reach the end of the film, instead of still being puzzled about where Ben is taking us, we have deduced the substance of the narrative. Even so, any remaining questions are nicely laid to rest. (Marinell Haegelin)

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