I am very conflicted. Here’s why.
The trailers for this movie are deceptive and misleading and you’ll find out in the first 10 or so minutes that this movie is absolutely not what you thought it was. However, if it had actually been marketed properly, a lot of you may really enjoy this movie. I won’t spoil anything but I’ll try to warn you about certain things.
Here’s what the trailers lead you to believe. Howard (Will Smith) lost his daughter and his successful ad agency is starting to crumble. His three best friends and colleagues (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Pena) are worried about him and they find out that he’s been writing letters of grief to the abstractions of Love (Keira Knightley), Time (Jacob Latimore), and Death (Helen Mirren). When they show up to answer his questions, things get interesting. We also have Naomie Harris as a leader for a support group that Howard eventually joins.
This isn’t the movie you end up with. This isn’t the storyline. The movie you get is not this interesting. I actually guessed what was really happening because of one shot in the trailers that contradicted this plotline, if you look hard enough. I won’t spoil it, but it’s not a mid-movie twist, it’s just a whole different storyline that is nowhere as interesting as what the trailers outlined.
Regardless of the trickery… Does this movie have potential?
Yes. The performances are often incredible, including some powerful moments from Smith and Pena especially. The good thing that the trailers misled you about is that Norton, Pena, and Winslet are really the stars of the movie and they all give incredible performances, all very nuanced and complex. Smith though delivers the most emotional moments and does a fantastic job at it, harkening back to some of his best work.
While the storyline is different, that doesn’t mean it isn’t impactful. I cried like a baby, as tragedy and celebration intertwined in complex ways. Pena’s character was especially surprising and his arc was an absolute tearjerker. If you want something emotional and resonant, this might do the trick.
What doesn’t work?
Okay, let’s pretend the trailers had accurately represented this movie. Would it be good? Kind of.
The plot, the real plot, doesn’t make much sense and there are gaping holes in logic and reason. And characters that we’re supposed to be interested in and rooting for come across as selfish narcissists. It’s hard to watch at times, as our supposed heroes end up becoming the film’s antagonists. And don’t even get me started on a weird use of technology that seems downright impossible. Maybe I should do a spoiler section for this movie? So much to say.
It doesn’t help that there are actually multiple other revelations and twists throughout the movie that don’t make sense either and actually unravel some progress that the film had made. One closing shot should have been avoided altogether, as it asked 1,000 more questions than it answered.
I feel betrayed but I don’t know if I should hold that against this movie. Even if they had been truthful, the actual plot is flimsey and not nearly as interesting as the story I expected to see. There are huge questions raised but the movie seems more concerned with delivering emotional moments than actually making sense. Deliver those moments it does, but I still felt cheated, even though the performances in these scenes were incredible. It’s very complicated but the performances in this movie are too good for this script.