- Gabriele Muccino
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Letís take the most famous recent example, though itís already 10 years old: The Sixth Sense (1999). Even though word-of-mouth talked of a plot twist, most of us were as happy as could be when the finale was close because the story arc of the kid had been fully satisfied, and he was the protagonist; but when a shattering revelation about the co-protagonist, children psychologist Malcolm Crowe, came upon, the story became outstanding far beyond. It was not all about the plot twist; there was a meaty story with enough thrills to keep us on the edge of our seats as it was, the twist only adding an extra layer that was related to the overall theme and made it infinitely more powerful.
Letís make the case of Seven Pounds clear, spoiler-free: Will Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who first suggests heíll kill himself, then harasses a blind man (Woody Harrelson) over the phone, then stalks debtors way beyond the limits of his position, all of this while heís tormented by incoherent flashbacks involving a car crash and a loving wife heís no longer with. Inexplicably, the man has become an IRS agent after holding a powerful position in a seemingly grade-A company, has moved into a cheap motel indefinitely and, dressed in a saddening gray suit and black tie, follows around debtors who are near death.
Who or what is this guy? Smith gives him sufficient depth but we have no clue what this depth meansÖ Is he morbidly obsessed with death? Is he dying and in need of relating with people who share his fate? Is he a psychopath who thinks heís a guardian angel but is in fact an exterminating one? One thingís for certain: heís got a hidden agenda, his motives are related to something horrible, and he behaves in a way that almost seems cruel for all the good that he apparently thinks heís doing. I was convinced all throughout that he was a wacko, I was worried for the people he interacted with, and all in all I was more in a hurry for the thing to finish than for it to explain itself, which it eventually did.
Among the ill/delinquent people Ben pursues, thereís a weak-hearted but glowing girl called Emily (Rosario Dawson, in an excellent performance) who owns a Great Dane that Ben feeds meat though she keeps the dog in a vegetarian diet. Despite the bad start, and the fact that heís an IRS agent, the sort that everyone hates, she falls for him, as he apparently does for her, but doesnít quite show it. Does he hide the secret that he kills everything he loves? Does he secretly hate her for a reason from the past and finds his love for her conflicting? Is she responsible for something horrible that happened to him? Does he want to see her dead and struggles to stay around until it happens? Whatís going on?
The filmmakers donít worry about our questions: they treat this love story as though we know itís a beautiful thing, complete with romantic music by Angelo Milli and a few scenes in a park where they laugh and have a good time like an old-fashioned movie couple in love. Only instead of enjoying these scenes, we find them gut-wrenching. (Iím presuming most of us do, but let me not be that presumptuous and state that at least I know I do.)
By the time they quickly revealed what it all was about, I wanted to strike them in the face. It made sense, of course, all of it did, but was it really worth going through so much pain and confusion for that kind of payoff? Was it necessary to make us suffer as much as the protagonist? I donít think so. Besides, the revelation wasnít all that great or intriguing; it was rather proof that Grant Nieporte didnít trust his own idea enough to play it in a more conventional way, and decided that making it incomprehensible for most of the running time, with a final twist to piece it all together, was a better idea. He found his scriptís way to Hollywood for sure, but I think he cheated. And I, for one, donít like to be cheated.
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter