Will Smith plays Howard, a man who lost his young daughter but finds hope again when he’s visited by three abstract concepts: Love, Time and Death show up in personified forms (played by Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore and Helen Mirren), and implore him not to lose hope.
His only child died, but they don’t want him to give up on life.
Taking place around the holidays, the whole thing carries a whiff of “A Christmas Carol,” with the three visitors echoing the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.
The trailer also indicates that this could be a modern-day “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with its blend of real-world problems and festive sorcery.
And the story seems so clearly engineered to make viewers cry.
Love, Death and Time are not angels.
They’re actors, and they’re paid tens of thousands of dollars to mess with Howard’s mind.
He runs an ad agency and owns 60 percent of the company, but business is down since so many of the accounts rely on personal relationships with Howard, and Howard has been a shell of his former charismatic self since his daughter passed away.
His three best “friends” (played by Edward Norton, Michael Peña and Kate Winslet), who are also his co-workers, want to sell the company, but they know Howard won’t agree. So they hire the actors to have conversations with the grieving man.
The schemers plan to film the interactions then edit out the three actors to make it look like Howard is crazy (while also making Howard think he’s crazy), so that they can take over his company and make a fortune from the sale.
This icky behavior is softened somewhat by the fact that each of the friends is going through his or her own struggles with love, death and time (the concepts, not the fake people).