"Seven Pounds" is irritatingly coy about Ben's real motive in questioning these people, but it's not hard to guess what he's up to.
Even some of his "clients" have an intuition:
"Why do I have the feeling you're doing something really nice for me?" Dawson's character says of the mysterious Ben.
I don't know, because "nice" isn't the word for it. He's insinuating himself into the lives of desperate, vulnerable people, and his only justification for this stalkerlike invasion is that he feels sorry for himself.
"Seven Pounds" seems to believe that once Ben's secrets have been revealed, all of the sick and dying people we meet will be awed and grateful. I suppose that's possible, but a movie with one foot in reality would have them also feeling shocked, betrayed, angry and burdened with unnecessary guilt bequeathed them by a man who has deviously usurped their role in making crucial moral decisions.
The movie re-teams Smith with Gabriele Muccino, the director who helped make "The Pursuit of Happyness" such a wonderful surprise via Smith's portrait of a single father who'll do anything for his son.
Smith no doubt thinks that "Seven Pounds" is another parable of self-sacrifice, but his character registers opposite attributes - self-interest and self-pity - to monstrous degrees.
It leads to a finale that's meant to be moving, but is instead almost unbelievably ghoulish, like something out of an inverted Frankenstein. *
Produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, d*rected by Gabr*ele Mucc*no, wr*tten by Grant N*eporte, mus*c by Angelo M*ll*, d*str*buted by Columb*a P*ctures.