Seething Guilt on DVD

Just uploaded are reviews for a pair of films addressing guilt, redemption, self-worth, and the struggle to find meaning after a terribly traumatic incident.

Will Smith's latest Acting vehicle is the superficially mysterious Seven Pounds (2008), which has the actor reuniting with Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino and actress Rosario Dawson.
The chemistry between Dawson and Smith is the the film's strongest asset, and they almost manage to sell the film's fractured plot that has am IRS salesmen visiting strangers to see if they're worthy of some special gifts he'd like to bestow. The good news: Seven Pounds is not manipulative crap, so there's less fear in being stuck watching much like What Dreams May Come, or City of Angels.

And while Kristin Scott Thomas got the bulk of the media attention for her French-speaking role in Philippe Claudel's I’ve Loved You For So Long / Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (2008), it's the ensemble cast and Claudel's deft avoidance of cliches and sledgehammer tactics that make the film one of the best dramas in a while.

The story of an ex-con reintegrating into society is old hat, and usually directors and writers like to inject love scenes, crying scenes, shouting scenes, and such, but Claudel goes for understatement - which makes sense, because while most crises can become fiery in private, generally the toughest moments come from affected people internalizing conflicts on an hour to hour basis at work and in public and when surrounded by friends and family, and that's where the film's power lies.

Kristin Scott Thomas is very good, but I think Claudel also latched onto the actress'overall aloofness, and sometimes chilly, snotty demeanor that's been present in prior acting roles. By focusing on her expressionless eyes, weariness and numbness, her eventually growth is more dramatic and affective. It's a really great film, and the only qualms with the DVD release is a lack of a commentary track from first-time director Claudel.



Copyright © mondomark