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Seven Pounds

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Seven Pounds tells the story of a man who decides that life is not worth living anymore. His deep emotional distress comes from both guilt and grief, and as he descends more and more into self-absorption, he kills himself to alleviate his suffering. At the film’s beginning, you sympathize with this tormented soul and are moved by his altruistic acts toward many strangers. Even before he kills himself, Will Smith’s character donates body parts so that others can live; his suicide provides additional body parts so that others (including one who turns out to be his love interest) can live.

Along with the themes of redemption and giving sacrificially to others, there are other spiritual allusions in the film (some of them from the Bible), but they ultimately do not sanitize what is in reality a dark movie about suicide. The film opens with Smith’s character, Ben Thomas (we find out later that Smith’s character is actually the brother of the real Ben Thomas), referencing the Bible with the comment, “In seven days, God created the world. In seven seconds, I shattered mine.” He then calls a 911 operator about his intent to kill himself. The rest of the film is a flashback to what brought him to the 911 call.

Seven Pounds also has a few allusions to the number seven, the number of completion or perfection in the Bible. But not all the sevens in this film are positive ones. For example, while there are seven recipients of Thomas’s generosity of seven body parts (apparently weighing a total of seven pounds, hence the movie’s title1), there were seven people, including his own fiancée, who died in a car accident that Thomas carelessly caused. But in his pursuit of redemption, Thomas’s actions are far from perfect, with wrongdoings ranging from lying to impersonating a federal agent to the more profound: committing suicide.

The movie has other spiritual allusions, such as scenes shot in a Catholic hospital. But this is not a film with a Christian message. Its...

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