A few weeks ago, I interviewed Will Smith and Rosario Dawson for their upcoming movie Seven Pounds. I thought for sure I would be star struck, not to mention that I was excited about being invited to the red-carpet premiere. In the end, though, it was a crash course in how the media relates to Hollywood.
I have come to realize that, as a print critic, I am a low life form in the entertainment industry. I’m only as good as my good review. The day I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Smith and Ms. Dawson, I raced to South Beach for the screening, raced to Brickell for an interview that was a few hours behind schedule, then raced to Coral Gables for the red-carpet premiere.
On that red carpet, I was packed into a tight spot with other media so that I could get one more audience with the stars; which I didn’t really get. All in all, I know what to do, what not to do, and what to wear for my next brush with A-List stardom as media. It was a good time, nonetheless.
Actually, this article isn’t about me, it’s about Seven Pounds and the people who made this film possible.
Seven Pounds is the story of an IRS agent, Ben Thomas (played by Smith) who decides to change the lives of seven people after a tragic mistake. One of these people is Emily Posa (Dawson); to whom he gets very close. I can’t go into any more detail than that, because the people at Terry Hines and Associates will never invite me to a screening again if I do. I can’t let that happen. So, since I swore that I wouldn’t give away the plot, you readers will just have to watch the movie to find out what happens.
“There were certain elements to my character that, in the rehearsal process, were eliminated,” said Dawson, whose comic book series Occult Crimes Task Force is about to be made into a film.
“There’s so much in the film that is unspoken.”
Hughes Winborne, who edited the film, managed to piece together something that was complex, yet simplistic. Winborne took out plot elements that were redundant and let the characters and situations speak for themselves. He also put the story together in such a way that it’s not in chronological order, but it fascinates the audience.
Smith, who is usually a very humorous man on and off the screen, is quite serious in this movie.
He only smiles once, and never tells a joke or says anything funny a la The Pursuit of
Happyness. For a while, I never thought I’d see the day where Smith would be taken as a serious actor, as well as a bankable star. At this moment, I have full confidence that he can accomplish any type of role with ease, and that the film will make money. Yes, Smith is at the top of his game.
Speaking of Pursuit, its director, Gabriele Muccino, worked with Smith again for Pounds.
“Gabriele is a very, very rare person in that he can see people,” said Smith, who has been named one of Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People of 2008. “He has the fantastic ability to find tiny little gestures or tiny little situations that illuminate big emotional ideas.”
Illuminate them he did. Those moments of silence and expressions of feeling are very apparent in this film. Muccino is quite an emotional director, but it has worked for Pursuit and it’s working for Pounds.
“The thing I really loved about Emily,” Dawson said of her character, “was how she chose to deal with her illness and how she lived her life. I wanted to be an advocate for life.”
It was whispered to me that Dawson didn’t portray the sickness too accurately. My response is that there is no real way to “act sick.” Everyone deals with illness differently. In Emily’s case, Dawson had her character get tired by doing push-ups between takes, but never let her lose her life.
Emily is lively all the way down to the rich colors and cute outfits she wears. I like that Dawson did this with her character instead of going with the norm. It makes the story less morbid and gives it the light it desperately needs.
Screenwriter Grant Nieporte wrote a good story, but it is the directors, actors and crew who made this film really come to life.
Other actors of note are: the fine, sexy, and talented Michael Ealy, who plays Ben’s brother; the always quirky Woody Harrelson as Ezra Turner, a blind man in need of a good change; and Elpidia Carrillo as Connie Tepos (I’ve never seen Carrillo in anything, but she gives a stellar performance).
Rounding out the cast are little Madison Pettis of Game Plan fame, who is serious and good as Connie’s daughter; overlooked talent Barry Pepper as Dan, Ben’s best friend; and Judyann Elder as Holly Apelgren (Elder is also talented and overlooked).
I will tell you that if you’re going to see this film, bring lots of tissue. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, you will be crying. Personally, I didn’t care too much for the ending, because I began to cry uncontrollably.
But Smith’s long-time pal, Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks alongside Smith on the TV sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” put it best: “If you think you’re a good person, and you feel good about the choices you’ve made in your life, this movie is a love story. But, if you’re uncomfortable with who you are, with the choices that you’ve made in your life and you don’t think of yourself as a good person, it’s a tragedy.”
For me, it’s a story based on the purest form of love.