Knowing the concept is far from actually watching and feeling these characters and their relationships develop, and seeing the concept of the film unfold before you.
What makes it better is that on Blu-ray Seven Pounds looks even richer and deeper, making the Blu-ray offering of Seven Pounds an excellent one, and delivering a superb film that really does offer something different from the Hollywood factory conveyor belt.
The film is a beautiful one, offering a look at a number of characters, but really concentrating on two in particular, and examining their emotional journey individually within in their own lives, and when they finally meet, together.
Not only is the story superb and rather unique, but the cinematography and direction is very strong, and the performances reflect the strength of all of these aspects of the film.
Will Smith plays the lead character Ben, and he provides a very good and underrated performance, however I don't think he's the one that really shows a strong performance in the film, and for me the best performance belongs to Rosario Dawson.
She gave something special, a natural and consuming performance that draws you into her character and her story. It was through her performance and her relationship with Ben that we really do become connected with Smith's character in a way that his alone cannot provide.
It is the relationship between these two characters that is the biggest star of the film though, and it's such a powerfully told story that it manages to slowly pull you in and make you wholeheartedly believe in these characters and their feelings for each other.
Both actors portray their roles very subtly and that helps the relationship develop between them in a natural and believable way. With a look and a touch they grow closer to each other and you feel the growing emotional connection.
Even when they sit down for a meal together, a very romantic looking meal, you still feel that barrier, the resistance to accepting what's happening between them, and even still the two aren't allowed to race ahead with full blown Hollywood romance. Instead, like it is for us all, the past and reality are never far behind.
In fact I think special mention has to be made of how the film handles this key moment. As the characters are allowed to edge slowly together the reality comes crashing back into the story with a start, watching how they change and the whole emotional track of the film takes a drastic and sudden turn and then seeing them pulled back on track is one of the most beautiful moments in the film. It's watching how the story pulls them back in and moves forward again without giving in to the expected that's the strongest moment for me.
Although I do think that Dawson steals the show for the best performance, there is a distinct feeling of Will Smith giving one of the best performances of his career, mainly because he does hold back so much, and that's a sign of just how far his acting capability has come from some of his first roles where his performance would be so much more outgoing and about him. Here we see a very constrained and a physically held performance, and it shows a great maturity from the actor who just keeps getting better and better.
At the end of the film we get his best performance, and without any great fanfare or too many words, we see his character wrestle with himself, realising what he is actually feeling is real, and grasping for some other way forward. These moments, and his final discovery, are wonderfully played and really pack an emotional punch, my heart was in my mouth throughout these sequences and the scenes with the doctor are the best moments in the film.
The bath tub scenes that mirror the two characters show a wide range of emotions for the characters and the audience together. I was heartbroken throughout, but I loved the duality of the two scenes. The second bath scene with Dawson's character leads into another important and highly emotional final sequences of the scene, and these tie up the story wonderfully.
The flashbacks for Ben, Smith's character, are edited well and revealed just at the right moments, not the moments you'd expect from a Hollywood film in this sort of area, and it shows less, builds less, and reveals all without the over dramatic factor of other films, and yet it carries more weight with the rest of the film behind it.
The pacing of the story was very good, with quite a few lingering, quiet shots giving for plenty moments of reflection for the characters and the audience, just in the right time and in the right place. It never felt rushed or hurried, and never needed to over explain anything – you'll see some background references that are mentioned later on in the film, and some that mean much more than their small placing in the shot.
The Blu-ray offering has a good picture with great use of colours. There was a slight grain through some of the scenes, particularly the darker, evening and night shots, however this felt more like an artistic choice and lent a certain character to the film. I've seen much better picture quality and detail on Blu-ray, but this film wasn't all about the picture and the sound, it was about the character and the story, and there it exceeded.
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
There's not that much use made of the speakers apart from the odd ambient noise and the music. When the sound did build up though it was well done and reflected the subtlety of the story.
Audio Commentary by Gabriele Muccino, Seven Views on Seven Pounds featurette, Creating the Perfect Ensemble featurette, The Box Jellyfish featurette, Printing Press featurette, Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary by Gabriele Muccino
This is a very interesting commentary from the director Gabriele Muccino that does go into the characters, their motivations, delves deeper into the story, the script, how the actors got their performances and also why. He also discusses some of the concepts in the film, and even in the tiniest of moments from some scenes.
It's very thorough and gives you so much more to the story and characters. I really liked this audio commentary, but you do have to concentrate to catch every word through the director's accent. However it's well worth watching and listening to. It actually had me crying at a scene that I didn't the first time around, as the director gave it a different feel and his explanation went a little bit deeper made it even more so.
Seven Views on Seven Pounds featurette
We see the writer, producers, director, location manager, designer, editor and the composer all talking about the film from their point of views. Although all are good, I think the best are the editor and composer sections where we get to hear from views not often heard in film production. This featurette also has plenty of behind the scenes action too.
Creating the Perfect Ensemble featurette
Here we learn how hard, or easy, it was to cast the roles and what the individual actors brought to them. There's some good footage and we get to hear from the actors too, Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper and Micheal Ealy.
The Box Jellyfish: World's Deadliest Co-Star featurette
A featurette that looks at the Box Jellyfish and explains a little about the creature and what an attack from it would be like.
Emily's Passion: The Art of the Printing Press featurette
The museum that lent the film the printing presses talks us through, and shows us, the presses in action. Interesting short.
There are only a few scenes that are included, and for the most part you can see why they aren't there, there's no need for them in the story that you'll have just watched. However the scene with the Doctor questioning Ben about his motivations and past is a good insight into Smith's character.
A beautiful script that was subtly written and filmed with some lovely cinematography, and let's not forget the two superb performances from Will Smith and the fantastic Rosario Dawson.
Seven Pounds is a wonderful film that is hugely emotional and at times intense, and delivers a great story that involves you deeply in the characters and the huge dilemma facing them.
The Blu-ray offering is extremely good, and while the picture isn't the best Blu-ray has to offer, it's still very good and will reveal a great deal of detail to the viewer. Couple the film with the extras though and there's a lot more to be had, the experience of the film becomes deeper and a little more intense.