I will not offer a review of this film, as that would be a waste of the little time we have together in this review space. The film does not deserve a judgment outside of the plain word "bad." Will Smith must go to the desert for 40 days and 40 nights and come back to the human family with a clear head and an empty stomach. Why? Because right now he is so full of shit. He needs a cleansing, a spiritual purge, and a reawakening. But to those who do watch Seven Pounds and see its shocking "revelation," I want to offer this reading or decoding of its narrative: The movie is about the death of the black male.
Now let's go back in history. Locked in the ghetto and in his specific social station, the black male had a clear identity. He knew who he was. He was who he was because he was black. He knew that much, and that much was more than enough to know. The meaning of his body was the product of direct social pressures and developments. It was the body of stolen labor, the body repressed by the police and feared for its sexual volatility. We can think of Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas—his rage, his American hunger, his limited world. Or how about the invisible man in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man: He was "the blackness of blackness." This certainty of the self, however, began to dissolve in the '90s, as the black male's social and spatial mobility increased. Because the pressures that once shaped him were easing, his black identity became unstable. In Seven Pounds, we see the result of this instability: The black male body dies and is dispersed. Will Smith is no more.