January 5, 2017
This film had been receiving very bad reviews since it was shown Stateside last month. It was notoriously the worst opening weekend box office performance of any Will Smith film. However, when I got to the mall this afternoon, this was the only film that fit my limited schedule, so reluctantly I went in to give it a chance.
Howard Inlet is a very successful New York advertising executive. When a tragedy struck his family two years ago, he could not accept his loss, and withdrew from usual routines, much to the dismay of his close friends and colleagues, Whit, Claire and Simon. When Howard wrote and sent complaint letters to his core essentials of Love, Time and Death, he actually gets a personal response from each of them in the form of Aimee as Love, Raffi as Time and Brigitte as Death.
OK, the script by Adam Loeb can be preposterous with so many improbabilities and cliches. The very title itself sounds so pretentious. On top of that, I am not exactly a Will Smith fan by any means. But for some odd reason and much to my own surprise, I was actually moved to misty-eyed sentimentality by this film, cheesy words and contrived situations notwithstanding. If you watch this without the jaded cynicism we generally have against dramas like this, I believe you can connect with its message.
Will Smith played Howard stoically and seriously down to that very emotional twisty ending. Aside from worrying about Howard and their company, Howard's friends were also worried about their own personal problems. Kate Winslet was very earnest as Claire, who was also worried about her biological clock. Ed Norton played the guilty philanderier Whit, who was worried about his relationship with his daughter. Michael Pena was the secretly suffering Simon, who was worried about leaving his family penniless.
I really, really liked Helen Mirren's whimsical portrayal of Bridget/Death. She was so funny in her delivery of lines and as scene-stealing as her character was. In contrast, Keira Knightley's melodramatic portrayal of Aimee/Love tended to be so maudlin. However, her second scene with Howard had so much punch, I wanted to memorize that killer line of hers word for word. The only new name in the main cast for me was Jacob Latimore who played Raffi/Time like a young streetwise punk. He had too much anger and angst going on though.
I guess you also have to be in the proper state of mind to appreciate the lines of dialogue, which may sound eloquent, well-conceived for some, but which admittedly may, at the same time, also sound corny and presumptuous for others.The "angels" are another potential source of ridicule if you consider them the wrong way, instead of a source of inspiration as the filmmakers intended. I might have been in just the right mood when I watched it then. I actually liked this film, despite all the negative press about it. 7/10.