03 March 2009

Student for Four Pounds Fifty Please

I went to see Seven Pounds on Friday with a friend of mine; I'd known nothing at all about the film, but she'd heard good things, and really wanted to see it, so I was content to run with that. I'd heard nothing bad, after all, and don't see enough of her, so I was more than happy to take chance on a film I knew nothing about. It's a funny time to be going to the cinema, really: what with Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon which I have difficulty believing is still on, perhaps Gran Torino, maybe Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and quite possibly The Wrestler if it's still on anywhere, there's simply too much on that's at least worth seeing, if not quite worth going to see. And of course, I'm more broke now than I've ever been in my life, so most of these films will just pass me by.

But anyway, off we went to see the film, since that'd been my friend's choice and I had no objections. It's rare I'm so trusting. Normally I'd scour online and then reply by saying something like Seven Pounds? The film the Guardian gave a mere one star to, calling it 'supremely annoying'? The film the Times likewise graced with one star, calling it 'a profoundly irritating mystery about a profoundly silly man'. I've never seen either paper give anything one star! And then there was the New York Times which wondered whether the film was 'among the most transcendently, eye-poppingly, call-your-friend-ranting-in-the-middle-of-the-night-just-to-go-over-it-one-more-time crazily awful motion pictures ever made'.

Surprisingly, you might think, despite this critical damnation, I have to say that my friend and I were evidently among the 76% of IMDB voters who didn't hate the film, rather than the 74% of critics who did, according to Rotten Tomatoes. I quite liked it, in fact. Sure, it was schmaltzy, and Will Smith seemed to spend the film wearing a permanent grimace, and I had serious doubts about the manner in which he was effectively playing God with people's lives, but I found it both engaging and thought-provoking, thought that Rosario Dawson was excellent in it, and felt that it was extremely well scored. Muse's version of 'Feeling Good' is a cracker, after all, and Bird York's 'Have No Fear' is heartwrenching. On top of that there's the simple fact that I'm a sucker for redemption stories - however flawed.

Given the redemption theme, and the manner by which that redemption is effected at the climax of the film, I'm still trying to figure out if the film's Catholic imagery helped or hindered it. It certainly got me thinking, it must be said, though there are people out there who think I do that too much anyway. . .

On getting home I decided to have a gander online to find out where the film's title came from, and it seems that it's a play on the pound of flesh demanded as repayment in The Merchant of Venice. Seven debts, seven pounds - that's the thinking.

And it was while I was looking that up that I discovered that a contract signed under a pseudonym is not legally valid, that corneas are the only parts of eyes that can be transplanted and that irises most certainly can't, and that box jellyfish poison is a neurotoxin that spreads through the entire body rendering every organ in the body unsuitable for donation. I think I understand now why the critics reckoned the film didn't make sense.

On the other hand, it's a powerful advert for safe driving, especially if it's preceded by a disturbing advert making a similar point. Ah, those canny nightmare-inducing advertising types.

1 comment:

CëRïSë said...

Fascinating review. I haven't seen this one, but maybe will if the opportunity arises.