Seven Pounds (2008)

Hello folks. Persons who have watched or are considering watching ‘Seven Pounds.’ I wanted to alert you to a somewhat brief introduction to, and a somewhat more detailed review and identification of what I think lies at the core of “Seven Pounds.” It’s a very serious movie. Have you read in Deus Caritas Est where Benedict writes that “anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift”? I think this is Ben Thomas’ (the main character) dilemma: He graces the lives of others, and that grace dramatically transforms such persons, but he can only extend a sort of grace, and he is only extending because he does not know to receive grace and allow that grace to transform and heal his own guilt-ridden life. What do you think? Follow me over to my blog. You might find other movies being discussed which at one point captivated your interest…

Kelly Wilson
"Seven Pounds" at Musings

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but your reference to Deus Caritas Est seems to get at the core of the movie: Ben can’t accept forgiveness. Before I saw the film, I was very interested in it, but after I saw it, it kind of disturbed me. Ben utterly destroyed himself in order to help others. It reminded of something that was discussed in a philosophy course I took: altruism can be taken to an extreme when it involves caring for another to the extent of disregarding yourself. While it can be argued how much that is a true statement, I think the core problem of Ben’s main action in Seven Pounds is this:

WARNING: SPOILERS

Ben violated the law of double effect. This law, in its most basic form, states that an evil action cannot be committed in order for a good effect to be achieved. To borrow a phrase, I believe from Kant, the end does not justify the means. Ben’s desire to help others through organ donation is definitely a good one, and the benefits they receive from the donations are good effects, yet suicide is an intrinsically evil act. All the good benefits do not outweigh the intrinsically evil act. Yes, good can come out of evil (just think of Christ’s Crucifixion), but that does not mean evil should be performed in order for good to result.

SPOILERS END

Those are my thoughts on this film. Like I said, I haven’t seen the film in a while, so I frankly forgot the theme of forgiveness and atonement you highlighted in your post. I thought I’d just add my thoughts anyway, even if they’re somewhat unrelated.

Here are links to other short threads on the movie:

The Movie "Seven Pounds"
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=295953

MOVIES: Seven Pounds SPOILERS
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=305648

I borrowed this movie from the library today and just finished watching it a few minutes ago.

I wish I hadn’t watched it. It is not an uplifting movie and seems to try to justify suicide and fails.

It "seems to try to justify suicide"?

No. It doesn't. As I wrote in my own review of the film (follow the link in my opening post), "Seven Pounds" excellently documents, even if it does not intend to, the muddled mind of Ben Thomas. Consider love. Love is not simply the self-less being and doing for another. Love is also the allowing of oneself to be loved (Benedict writes in Deus Caritas Est that "anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift"). I think this is Thomas' dilemma: He graces the lives of others, and that grace dramatically transforms such persons, but he can only extend a sort of grace, and he is only extending because he does not know to receive grace and allow that grace to transform and heal his own guilt-ridden life.

The fact that he commits suicide does not mean the act is endorsed. It is a consequence of his muddled mind. I think every viewer would rather see him become unmuddled. The reason the end is bothering is because it didn't have to be...

Kelly,

I understand your point about Thomas' muddled mind and how he had difficulty allowing himself to be loved and how his suicide didn't have to be. I think that's the truth of the matter the movie is portraying. The thing is, I'm not sure if the intention of the filmmakers was for you to view the suicide as a tragic thing. It's been years since I've seen the film, but I thought it portrayed the suicide as a positive act. I think the difference between you and SwizzleStick is that he or she is viewing the film as the filmmakers intended, which is a glorification of Thomas' suicide as a selfless act, while you are seeing the truth hidden in the events of the film which I do not think the filmmakers intended. I could be wrong about this, and I might need to watch the film again to see if my memory of it is correct, but I think SwizzleStick's impression of the film is actually what the filmmakers intended.

I agree. Here is an excerpt from a review that I found that sums things up pretty well for me.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
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"…And that brings us to the biggest problem with Seven Pounds: it expects us to approve of the suicide of a mentally disturbed person because he signed his organ donor card. Is there a great movie to be made about a man who can’t get past his responsibility for the deaths of people in an auto accident who kills himself with a mad plan to “make up for” those deaths? Sure, you can make a great movie about anything. But I can’t imagine that movie not including a single dissenting voice, and I can’t imagine it finding the suicide to be as much of a positive as that final scene between Emily and Ezra clearly does. Bottom line: donating a few organs doesn’t make Ben’s suicide any less of a coward’s way out than anyone else’s. Yes, he is responsible for the seven people killed in the accident, and I can imagine him feeling a desperation to make up for that by saving other people. But we see him save several lives in the movie without killing himself through transplants that won’t kill him and a simple good deed. How many more lives could he have saved if he had kept going? Simply needing to balance the scales is an act of insanity. Why does Dan go along with it? Because he’s Ben’s Best Friend? If so, he’s the worst Best Friend ever. It’s called an Intervention, people. Look into it. "…

Blue excerpt from: lamarsmoviepalace.com/sevenpounds.html

Sir, if you think the movie expects us to approve of the suicide then you do not understand what I have written. While you think you agree, you don't.

[quote="Kelly_Wilson, post:7, topic:255486"]
Sir, if you think the movie expects us to approve of the suicide then you do not understand what I have written. While you think you agree, you don't.

[/quote]

Who are you addressing? I agree with Wolfsbane (and Lamar too), which is why I quoted his post to signify agreement with it. I do not agree with your review.

[quote="Kelly_Wilson, post:7, topic:255486"]
Sir, if you think the movie expects us to approve of the suicide then you do not understand what I have written. While you think you agree, you don't.

[/quote]

Why don't I agree with your review? I disagree with your premise that Ben had any problem with receiving love, being healed by love. By the end of the movie, I think he would have been perfectly willing to receive Emily's love if she had had a better chance of survival than 2%-5%. When they played the "what if" game, he said he would like marriage and children. So, I think he was thinking along the lines of both giving and receiving love if she could survive.

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