Fresh from winning Best Supporting Actress of 2016 from the National Board of Review for Moonlight – and predicted to earn an Oscar nomination as well — Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Pirates of the Caribbean) now stars as sympathetic grief counsellor Madeline in New Line Cinema’s thought-provoking drama, Collateral Beauty.
In the film, Howard (Will Smith), a successful New York advertising executive retreats from life after suffering a great tragedy. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Love, Time and Death. But it’s not until his notes bring unexpected personal responses that he begins to understand how these constants interlock in a life fully lived, and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
Even as questions and emotions are being stirred up, there exists a quiet, personal touchstone for Howard. Somewhere in the city after hours, a group of people, diverse in every way except in the pain they share, sit together to talk about lost loved ones, to break out photos and offer one another comfort and community.
Many nights, Howard approaches this meeting place. He peers into the window from a distance, watching the gentle movements and welcoming smile of the woman who leads the group. Sometimes she looks in his direction, and then he turns away.
Madeline is a grief counselor who walks the walk every day with the people in her support group. Like them, and like Howard, she has lost a child. But unlike Howard, Harris says, “I believe that soon after it happened, Madeline began looking for ways to deal and cope, and she gravitated toward these support groups very early on. What I admire about Madeline is how strong she is. She’s full of love and so brave in that she’s willing to face this loss the way she does, determined to learn and grow from it, whereas Howard turns away from that. He can’t face it. He can’t begin to deal with it.”
Madeline’s healing is accomplished through her work. “She’s found a way, through her own grief and loss, to find meaning in life by helping others deal with their own loss, and I really connected to that,” Harris adds. So her glimpses of this haunted figure outside the window make her want very much to reach out to him.”
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“Madeline takes a special interest in Howard and feels that with a little bit of coaxing he might become a participant in the group, and then she can really help him,” director David Frankel offers, adding, “Naomie’s chemistry with Will is very specific and powerful. She has a fantastic ability to convey emotion that is deep below the surface.”
One of Madeline’s gifts is her patience. She hopes that one day, when he’s ready, Howard will cross that chasm and come inside. When he does, she will be there for him.
Opening across the Philippines on January 04, 2017, Collateral Beauty is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.