When asked to adequately sum up Collateral Beauty in a single sentence, director David Frankel (Dear Diary, The Devil Wears Prada) referred to his starry Oscar contender as a “screwball drama.” Upon viewing last month’s poignant first teaser, it’s not too difficult to see why. Two months out from release and we now have the first theatrical poster to pour over, teasing the ways in which we are all connected.
So, what’s the pitch? Well, Frankel’s picture places Will Smith in the shoes of Howard Inlet, a high-flying New York advertising executive circling the jaws of depression following the sudden death of his young daughter. Crushed, Howard comes dangerously close to losing the will to live, retreating into grief as his home and work life spiral out of control. His co-workers Claire (Kate Winslet), Simon (Michael Pena) and Whit (Edward Norton) quickly draft up a plan to help bring their friend back from the brink.
Switching gears into the metaphysical, Howard begins his own form of therapy to combat his crippling depression, drafting letters to Love, Death and Time – three omnipresent forces that he’s always been fascinated by. Imagine his shock, then, when Collateral Beauty throws up the living incarnation of each force, with Helen Mirren as Death, Keira Knightly as Love and Jacob Latimore as Time. If the cast wasn’t enough to hook you in, the promise of Will Smith at the center of existential drama ought to at least pique you interest.
Part Christmas Carol, part It’s a Wonderful Life, Collateral Beauty will jostle for a place in the Oscar race when Frankel’s ensemble drama opens on December 26.