What makes a good movie?
Is it the ability to keep the audience captivated? How about its ability to keep the audience stimulated? Is it the chemistry of the actors/actresses? If the chemistry is great… will the audience be willing to overlook a horrible storyline? If the drama is monumental, does that make up for horrible acting?
These are the questions we ask ourselves.
This is the question that director Gabriele Muccino has asked and been proven to be able to answer with such cinematic credits like The Pursuit of Happyness. So when writer Grant Nieporte approached Gabriele Muccino with the project of Seven Pounds, the problem was not with his credibility, the main question Muccino had to ask himself was: Is Seven Pounds the type of movie he wanted to have his name associated with?
Like any salesperson, Nieporte had to be honest enough to present Muccino with the truth and hope that he would not miss the overall vision. Fortunately, Muccino was a man of vision. Now armed with a screenplay that was as powerful as a loaded gun, Muccino set out to find producers who would not try but be successful at making Seven Pounds a cinematic masterpiece.
Muccino did not underestimate the task at hand and obtained heavy hitter David Crockett (The Great Debaters, Gone Baby Gone and The Amityville Horror), David J. Bloomfield (Knowing), James Lassiter (Lakeview Terrace, Hancock, and I am Legend), and last but not least Jason Blumenthal (The Taking of Pelham 123, The Weather Man, and The Pursuit of Happyness). Together these men of vision endeavored to create a cinematic experience that the audience would remember.
People who viewed this movie had a buffet to eat from ranging from a soothing but riveting soundtrack to a colorful yet not overpowering set. The cinematography was sharp enough to hold your attention but not so bold as to distract you from the main focus. Brilliant coloring, striking contrasts, relaxing backgrounds make the audience feel right at home while on tour; that is an amazing feat in and of itself.
However, they could not and did not stop there. Next on their task list was to hire actors/actresses that would not accept the job because it was a paycheck or another notch on their Hollywood’s belts; but would actually give the film the attention and dedication it was due. This of course is the task for all and any directors/producers; however, sometimes they fall short. The staff of Seven Pounds was not afforded this luxury. While monetary enhancement was the ultimate goal, as a movie viewer, I got the overall feeling that delivering a movie of superior quality as a close second if not main goal.
Now, naysayers would argue with such a heavyweight cast Seven Pounds was a sure bet. However, I could give you a slew of movies where conditioned actors/actresses were not enough to guarantee the success of a movie. Seven Pounds is a thinking man’s movie. The question now is who to cast…. Who to cast?
Let me tell walk you through the storyline of Seven Pounds; so that you can fully appreciate what the casting director(s) and producers had to endure.
Seven Pounds introduces you to Ben Thomas (Will Smith), a handsome and noticeably troubled man. As we begin to get to know Ben we get the sense that there is more to him than what meets the eye but we can’t quite put our finger on what. As we begin to observe his interaction with Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) we are drawn like cats chasing string that is occasionally dabbled over our heads. As the movie progresses, the ball of yarn grow larger and larger as we are caught deciding if Seven Pounds is a movie about love or deception, betrayal or redemption.
The audience has to be careful not to make assumptions but the gnawing need to understand the big picture is overwhelming. All of a sudden, you get a clue that maybe the key to understanding the movie is in the cast itself. So the audience finds themselves, trying to understand what Emily Posa , Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), George Ristuccia (Bill Smitrovich) and Holly Apelgren (Judyann Elder) have in common. The answer is Ben Thomas.
Who is Ben Thomas? What is he about? What does he have to offer? More importantly, what does he want? These questions continually run through your mind. Ben seems obsessed with changing the lives of these selected people with no explanation offered.
Suddenly the pieces begin to come together and you find out that the past weighs heavily on Ben’s heart and mind. These acts are a means of atoning. The film leaves you pinning for answers until the last possible minute. Once you know the truth, it makes Ben’s actions understandable. You sit wishing you could give Ben a glass of self forgiveness. You struggle with understanding his plight and being concerned with the level of obsession for righting past wrongs. His final act leaves you breathless, tearful and ultimately humbled.
Seven Pounds was grossly misunderstood. In a world where simple concepts such as responsibility and accountability are concepts of a forgotten era; Seven Pounds seeks to strap you in to observe one man’s journey and experience the ultimate expression of love.