presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and
places it in a highly unique situation. And though we
may sniff at a bestselling formula, it is certainly not
a new one. Even the ancient tribal storytellers knew
that this is the most successful method of entertaining
an audience while slipping in a lesson or two.
storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an
Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a
distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he’s
off, leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.
way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in
unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read
Englishman. In one of the Englishman’s books, Santiago
first learns about the alchemists — men who believed
that if a metal were heated for many years, it would
free itself of all its individual properties, and what
was left would be the "Soul of the World."
Of course he
does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing
student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy’s
misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay
true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will
have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one
night as they look up at a moonless night.
heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the
suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no
heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its
dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s
encounter with God and with eternity."
Smith is interested in emotional pain now, in the dark
In fact, the movie is so roundabout
and cryptic that it takes half the running time just to
figure out the general nature of what’s going on.
Seven Pounds makes a mystery of its lead character
and of what he’s pursuing, and for a very simple reason:
If the movie were to announce its subject and story in
the usual straightforward way, it would seem so
ridiculous, far-fetched and borderline distasteful that
no one would want to watch it. It might even seem funny.
So Muccino’s task is clear, if
difficult — to generate enough magic and to work up just
the right mood so as to cast a spell on viewers. That
way, when the movie’s intentions and meaning are finally
made clear, nothing will seem discordant or strange. All
will make sense. For the most part, Muccino accomplishes
this precise balance that Grant Neoporte’s screenplay
Going in, all we know about Ben
(Smith) is that something terrible has happened in his
past, and that he feels responsible for it. That’s all.
Everything else we gradually piece together, through a
fractured narrative that jumbles the time sequence. We
learn that he is an IRS agent.
Later, we see that he does field
audits, but audits of a very particular and repugnant
kind. He seems to specialise in hounding people for back
taxes when they’re in the hospital, sometimes with
There’s anger in this guy. In one
scene, he talks on the phone to a food company’s
customer service representative (Woody Harrelson), and
when he finds out the man is blind, he goes ballistic
and starts taunting him, making withering, demeaning
remarks and shouting into the phone. Obviously, this is
not the usual Will Smith, and that difference is half
the appeal of Seven Pounds, to see a familiar
screen presence show new sides of himself.
Smith has made a point of
stretching in recent years. Even in the title role of
Hancock, which was in most ways a routine action
movie, Smith had to build a character different from his
usual rambunctious action persona, tapping into reserves
of sorrow and disillusionment.
But he goes much further in
Seven Pounds. His breeziness becomes a shallow act,
and his smile becomes downright eerie, a strained mask
that hides pain, wards off hostility and expresses
aggression all at the same time. It’s a smile with dead
Throughout, Seven Pounds has
a distinct quality. The pensive score, the subjective
cinematography and even the muted aspect of the featured
performances all contribute to a sense of being trapped
inside a waking dream, or nightmare. Ben leads a hollow
existence, a death in life, and the people with whom he
comes into contact are the forgotten, who have dropped
out of the world.
Enjoyment of Seven Pounds
rests entirely in how one reacts to the romance that
develops between the austere IRS agent and Emily
(Rosario Dawson), a graphic artist suffering from
congenital heart failure. Some will cry foul, say it’s
too much, that the movie turns maudlin. But for those
who find themselves on the film’s wavelength, this is
love at the edge of the universe. This is the kind of
thing that inspires people to write operas.
Dawson, with her strident but
delicate beauty, is worthy of operatic treatment.
Seven shows once again that she has it in her to be
a powerhouse, even as it showcases a sweetness and
vulnerability she hasn’t shown before. Dawson, who
played Mimi in Rent and Edward Norton’s
girlfriend in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour, is ready to
take her place as a major screen actress.
In the end, the most appealing
thing about Seven Pounds is the element it shares
with Smith’s more cheerful movies: It affirms life as
something enormous and important, not small, not
meaningless, but monumental and worthy of big
Wodehouse - The Unknown Years
(a Stamford Lake Publication) by Baroness Reinhild von
Bodenhausen was launched at the Galle Face Hotel on
April 8 amid a gathering of literary enthusiasts, the
media and well wishers.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader
at the launch, author of P.G. Wodehouse - The Unknown
Years, Baroness Reinhild von Bodenhausen stated that
she was delighted to launch the book in Sri Lanka,
saying that Sharmini Mathew and Stamford Lake
Publications made the book launch possible.
P.G. Wodehouse - The Unknown Years
is a heartwarming
tale about a man who is known for his acclaimed
Jeeves and Blanding Castles novels, a series
which has kept generations in stitches of laughter.
But few know of his pre war antics;
the fact that his devotion to his dogs, led to his
capture by the Germans during World War Two. And during
1941-1942 he was ‘hidden away’ in a country home which
belonged to the author’s family.
Now, nearly 70 years since his stay
at the Bodenhausen countryside home, comes a story that
sheds light on Wodehouse’s time spent with the
Bodenhausens’ and a side to him many do not know.
All set for Chillies 2009
This year’s edition of the Sri
Lanka Advertising Awards, the Chillies, will be preceded
by the much-anticipated Chillies Week 2009, a series of
potentially life-changing creative opportunities
offering local creatives interaction with the world’s
most exceptional advertising industry trendsetters.
The first seminar during Chillies
Week 2009 will offer not-to-be-missed insights into two
cultures when industry heavyweights, Dentsu Japan’s
Masako Okamura and JWT India’s Senthil Kumar, highlight
how creativity manifests in their respective cultures.
They will also share useful
experiences faced while working with other cultures.
Entitled Creativity In Two Worlds, Masako’s and
Senthil’s seminar will be held on Tuesday, April 21,
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Upper Crystal Room of the
Taj Samudra Colombo.
Next will be the popular Judges
Forum — Print and TV on Wednesday, April 22,
from 7 p.m. onwards and Judges
Forum — Radio and Non Traditional Media on Thursday,
April 23 from 7 p.m. onwards, both at the Upper Crystal
Room. Final learning opportunities include "It doesn’t
have to be an Ad," a workshop conducted by former ECD
TBWA/ Tequila Singapore and Chief Integrator for Asia,
Graham Kelly, on Friday, April 24, from 9 a.m. to 1
p.m., at the Regency Room, and a seminar on
"Creativity in tough times," also
by Graham Kelly, on Friday, April 24, from 6 p.m. to 8
p.m., at the Upper Crystal Room.
Chillies Week 2009 will end with
the 2009 Finalists Exhibition slated for Tuesday, April
Thursday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at On Golden
Pond, followed by the Chillies 2009 Main Event, on
Saturday, May 2, from 6 p.m. onwards at SLECC.