The protagonist of the film – the owner of a large advertising company Howard Inlet. Recently, in his personal life, there was a terrible tragedy – the death of a child. Because of this, Howard falls into a deep depression, from which his friends and colleagues intend to pull him out. While they are trying to develop a plan for how to do this, the hero of the film begins to write letters of Death, Time and Love. A little time passes and those to whom he wrote find it …
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- The main role in the film had to go to Hugh Jackman, but due to the fact that he was busy on other projects, he had to give up. Next, the producers considered for the role of Johnny Depp, but in the end she went to Will Smith.
- In the film, Rachel McAdams could have been filmed, but due to her employment at the Doctor Strange project (2016), she could not do it.
- Rooney Mara was supposed to get one of the main roles in the film, but for unknown reasons, she dropped out of the project.
- Initially, Alfonso Gomez-Rehon was to be the director of the film, but due to creative differences with the studio New Line Cinema, he left the project.
- Before that, Keira Knightley and Naomi Harris had already played together in the films “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At the End of the World” (2007).
- On participation in the film was negotiated by Jason Segel.
- The film was shot in New York in the winter and spring of 2016.
- When Howard and Madeleine walk down Manhattan Street, there is a large flow of cars on the road when the camera shoots in one of the directions. However, the movement stops completely when we are shown a plan from another camera.
New York, Madison Avenue. In an advertising agency meeting for the year. Employees in favor of the company’s owner Howard Inlet. He congratulates colleagues on the successful completion of the year and says that love, time, and death unite everyone living on the earth.
It takes three years. Howard’s colleagues — Claire, Whit and Simon — observe how Howard builds a structure of dominoes, and then arranges his collapse and leaves the office. From the conversation of the trinity, it becomes clear that some time ago Howard had died a six-year-old daughter, since he behaves like a zombie. Meanwhile, the company is getting worse. Most of the client base depends on Howard’s personal contacts, serious customers leave the agency. But the company made a good offer to buy its shares. The controlling stake belongs to Howard, without his consent, the transaction will not be concluded, and he does not want to talk on this topic, as, indeed, all the rest. Whit proposes to hire a private investigator to gather information indicating Howard’s inadequacy. On the basis of such information, it will be possible to deprive him of his right to vote at a meeting of shareholders. A suitable candidate for such work is Sally Price, an outgoing elderly lady, who at one time on behalf of the now ex-wife Whit caught him in adultery. Claire says that you can’t do this with their friend Howard. Whit draws her attention to the fact that the entire staff of the company may suffer due to the fact that the main shareholder does not come out of a stupor.
Sally Price takes up her duties. She sees Howard leave the house and drop the letters in the mailbox. Using illegal methods, she retrieves letters from the mailbox and transfers them to customers. Claire, Whit and Simon are introduced to their content. Letters are addressed not to people, but to abstract categories: Death, Time, and Love. Howard blames them for his misfortunes.
Claire comes to the door of Howard’s apartment, she brings him a package of food from the restaurant. At the knock on the door and the voice of his colleague Howard does not respond. In the corridor, the landlord goes out and reports that his tenant does not even answer the phone calls and is indebted to the rent. Claire is ready to pay the debt. The owner asks him to leave him food, which Howard will not touch anyway. Whit comes on a date with her daughter. She says he hates him, he broke his mother’s heart. The girl flatly refuses to communicate with her father.
In the casting agency. A girl appealing for a role in a commercial is appealing to Whit. She tells him a better formulation of the slogan invented by him. Struck Whit immediately makes amendments, and the girl, without waiting for their turn, leaves the agency. Following her, Whit falls into the basement, where a rehearsal of an unknown play takes place. It involved the same girl (Amy), an elderly actress (Bridget) and a black teenager (Raffi). Whit is impressed with their acting skills. He is informed that the troupe has no money to stage the play, it needs a sponsor. Whit returns to the agency and shares his idea with his colleagues. From communication with his mother, who survived a stroke, he concluded: it’s not worthwhile to impose your own reality on people who are not quite adequate, it is easier to adjust to their reality. If Howard refers to abstractions, let them answer him. We need to hire actors who will play Death, Time and Love. Claire doubts that from a moral point of view it will be right. But she calms herself and everyone else with the thought that in this way they will at least try to bring Howard back to life. Actors accept the offer, for this they are promised a generous fee.
Bridget takes the first approach in the role of Death, she says she received the letter and responds to Howard’s reproaches. He listens to an elderly actress, but does not enter into dialogue. Bridget seems that the only viewer believed her. Howard comes to a meeting of a psychological support group for parents who have lost their children. To the question of the leader, what was the name of his daughter, he does not answer and leaves.
Bridget meets with Simon to sign a contract. He admits to the actress that he is mortally ill, but does not inform the family about this. During the next conversation with Simon, Bridget says that he needs to behave differently, give his loved ones the opportunity to say goodbye to him. Raffi comes to the office of the advertising agency and declares to Howard that he is Time, came to answer the charges brought against him in the letter. Claire comes up and pretends not to see the actor. After this, there is a conversation between Claire and Raffi. The guy claims that a woman also has problems with time, she does not have time to conceive a child. To the table in the cafe where Howard is sitting, Amy sits down, appears to be Love. But Howard, without finishing his meal, rises and leaves. Whit is trying to flirt with Amy, but “Love” blasts him. Advertisers again meet with the actors of the troupe. They were asked to hold another session and provoke Howard to a violent emotional reaction. Amy is outraged by this proposal and leaves the meeting.
Howard comes to the leading psychological support group (Madeleine) and enters into conversation with her. She tells him about her family tragedy. After the death of her daughter from a rare illness, she divorced her father, but continues to love him. When they filed a divorce, he gave his wife a postcard in which he wrote that he would like to become unfamiliar with her again. Howard complains to Madeleine of hallucinations, he is visited by Death, Time and Love. Madeleine says that before her daughter died, she met a strange elderly woman who advised her under such circumstances not to miss the ghostly beauty. Howard interrupts the conversation and leaves.
Whit is looking for Amy and begins to persuade her to continue to play the role of Love, offers her a lot of money. She refuses and makes a counter offer: Whit builds relationships with her daughter, and she will meet with Howard again.
Howard rides the street on a bicycle. His on the skateboard is catching up with Raffy, clings to the trunk, starts a conversation. Howard brakes sharply, the boy falls on the pavement. Howard is hysterical, he angrily speaks out Time, throws a skate at the wall of the nearest house. Sally Price is shooting this scene. In the subway to Death, Death approaches the conversation. Howard is angry: he is being told sheer nonsense. His invectives on raised tones are again captured by a lady detective sitting in a subway car. On Howard Street Meets Love. She tells him how different she is. He answers in a rage: he was betrayed by the love that he saw in the eyes of his daughter.
The agency is meeting on the powers of Howard. The participants see on the monitors how the main shareholder of the company speaks with emptiness (in the video, the actors are removed from the frame). The chairman asks Howard to comment on what he saw. He interrupts a long silence and says that perhaps all are crazy here: Claire does not have a child involved in business, Whit asks for the right to father his daughter, Simon dies (everyone knows about it), but does not dare discuss the problem with the family. He then signs papers confirming the transfer of his authority to manage the company.
Simon tells his wife about his illness. Claire transfers money to Raff, he comforts a woman: your children are not only those whom you have given birth to, but all in whom you have put your soul. Whit meets her daughter and overcomes her hostility. The girl agrees to meet with her father.
On Christmas Eve, Howard comes to visit Madeleine. It becomes clear that they are spouses who have been separated after the death of their daughter. Madeline manages to get Howard to pronounce the girl’s name: Olivia. The spell is lifted, the couple again together. They walk in the park, Death, Time and Love look at them from the bridge