Director: David Frankel
The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me director, David Frankel gives us another intriguing drama. He tends to makes films about subjects not so to everyone's tastes but you end up watching it anyway. And, gladly so. The Devil Wears Prada was one of my favourite films of 2006.
The story is centred around Howard, Will Smith, an advertising executive who was once full of life but now suffering from heavy bereavement, after tragically losing his daughter. Even though the story is pivotal to Howard, it's superbly balanced with the rest of the cast, so much so, I would say no one is headline star here, being a film similar to Crash, Adaptation or Magnolia in terms of balance.
We mostly see how Howard's relationships are affected by his recline from society, mostly all work related and their knock-on affects, which poses a few key moral dilemmas. Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Peña being his trusted colleagues/friends, each having their own issues whilst trying to juggle the future of their company with lack of leadership from Howard.
Howard writes three letters, each addressed to Death, Time and Love, literally protesting their existence and purpose feeling betrayed by each of them. What happens next, is a little disappointing, but without giving anything away, the three respond in personified person and what starts off as a disappointment actually turns into wonderment as the scheme plays out.
Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and a young Jacob Latimore play the three entities that visit Howard in almost Dicken's fashion, like A Christmas Carol. And whilst all give strong performances it's Norton, Mirren and Latimore who shine. Especially Latimore having to act against and amongst such great actors and he does a brilliant job. How does a fresh actor go about intimidating Will Smith, unless you're Margot Robbie of course.
Smith displays similar faces of emotion from Seven Pounds, and whilst he is powerful in parts it wasn't enough to be fully engaging. It's almost automated to like any movie with Mirren in and she's does her part well, but again, like Smith, it's not Oscar worthy and Norton does outstanding as expected. Maybe it's because of how the film is structured and balanced, not allowing the characters to be fully explored.
We realise it isn't just about Howard, but about connection, the people around us, the Collateral Beauty. And though at some stage I felt like I was missing something, or that the film wasn't making clear sense, it does eventually blossom into something heartfelt.
Theodore Shapiro does an elegant and beautiful score, instantly hitting home with emotion. It's a score I can reflect with, finding it inspiring. The soundtrack is minimal but amazing use of Fink's track "Looking Too Closely" and OneRepublic providing the end credit track "Let's Hurt Tonight"
It's not the first time Frankel makes a film this at first feels like it loses it's way. It's poetic, crisp and smart but does lack the immediate impact. However once you think about it and connect all the dots, you figure out it's full glory. It's certainly a film I not just will watch again, but want to watch again.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 8
The Extra Bonus Point: 5 for a refreshing and thought-provoking story.
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes.