• Publication date: September 2, 2011

Erasing the Past by Altering the Future Seven Pounds: The Secret of a Lifetime

At what point does the act of redemption lead to self-destruction? Depending on one's misdeed, is self-destruction the ultimate form of redemption? Or is redemption itself merely a selfish attempt to alleviate guilt, despite an inability to physically reverse the damage of a past transgression? Could an act of redemption be simultaneously selfish and selfless, nullifying what ever good intent originally triggered one's desire to atone?

At what point does the act of redemption lead to self-destruction? Depending on one's misdeed, is self-destruction the ultimate form of redemption? Or is redemption itself merely a selfish attempt to alleviate guilt, despite an inability to physically reverse the damage of a past transgression? Could an act of redemption be simultaneously selfish and selfless, nullifying what ever good intent originally triggered one's desire to atone?

Tim Thomas (Will Smith) faces this dilemma, living in a perpetual state of depression rooted in his own wrongdoing and an inability to correct it. While suicide is an understandable response to depression it is nonetheless a cowardly and selfish decision, that by itself cannot compensate for one's crimes against humanity. Capital punishment or monetary compensation is not a tit for tat solution either, since no amount of wealth or degree of revenge can change certain actions.

So how should Tim respond to his predicament? What exactly is the protagonist's predicament anyway? Both of these questions are answered as the film progresses, but not before audiences are taken on an emotional and psychological roller coaster ride. Discussing anything but the plot's roughest details risks defeating the filmmaker's grand intention: to keep audiences oblivious to Tim's motivations, despite their continuously precise execution.

With that in mind here is a vague description of Smith's character, a former aerospace engineer of great esteem unexplainably working as an IRS auditor instead. Either job should allow Tim to live comfortably, yet he chooses to occupy a dingy hotel room. He uses his status as an auditor to enter seemingly random taxpayers' lives and homes, gaining an intimate look into their everyday routines. But what for? And why in one instance does he needlessly taunt a blind man? His gentlemanly manner, loosely resembling serial killer Ted Bundy, suggests evil. In contrast the auditor's random acts of kindness seem saintly and intensely genuine. Tim's actions eventually present an unanswered philosophical question, almost guaranteeing that an animated post-viewing discussion will follow around the television.

Seven Pounds was a box office success, generating over $166 million worldwide -- or three times its cost of production. Its soundtrack features Sly and the Family Stone and Diana Krall along with many other artists.

Year: 2008

Duration: 123 minutes

Genre: Drama

Starring:

Will Smith

Rosario Dawson

Woody Harrelson

Michael Ealy

Barry Pepper

Director: Gabriele Muccino

Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content, and a scene of sensuality.