I felt compelled to write about “Collateral Beauty,” which I screened last week, after the unfortunate slamming it’s taken in the critics’ circle. I say unfortunate because, unlike most of the reviews I’ve read – many critical of both actors and film- I don’t believe it is deserving of the almost hate I witnessed. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore tell quite the story of what to expect from this film – with the former showing 14% rotten, but 68% popular with audience, and the latter showing an A- cinema score.
My take on the film? From the trailer, the audience knows that we are going to watch a sappy film about a successful businessman (Will Smith) who suffers the ultimate tragedy for a parent – the loss of a child – goes into major depression and has subsequent experiences with abstract concepts to whom he has written letters – Love, Time, and Death played by Oscar-nominated Keira Knightley, actor/singer Jacob Latimore (with a very strong performance) and Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren. And I mean, when have you not enjoyed watching Mirren on screen?
Smith has great moments in this, which to me suffered more from a heavy-handed emotional approach/screenplay that could have worked if not overdone. In the film, the audience finds we are dealing not only with Smith character’s (Howard) setback, but ultimately (without fully spoiling) major issues with his partners/colleagues played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Pena. There’s a lot to take in, and at some points it felt a bit lengthy but, I can’t front, I was invested in Howard’s recovery and the lessons to be learned by his colleagues – who tried to pull a fast one, only to have a few things about themselves revealed.
And the twist that so many critics are blasting? I actually thought that was the best thing! I was so invested in what I thought was the major plot point, and the expected pivotal moment, I completely misread the clues the film was giving throughout.
And I would be remiss not to mention Naomie Harris, who plays a counselor (Madeleine) in a parent survivors’ group that attempts to help Howard along his journey. While watching the film I remember thinking, “Boy this counselor is pushy,” as she follows Smith’s character to the street during an early meeting. But all, for me surprisingly, became clearer with the reveal.
In sum, I wouldn’t make plans to watch this movie every holiday, or put on the repeat list, but I am not mad that I watched it either – and I certainly don’t believe it is horrible. With moderate to good performances throughout and a “girl, weren’t you paying attention” twist, “Collateral Beauty” appears to suffer as “collateral damage” from its overdone screenplay. Like the title implies, there is meaning and beauty in suffering…see what I did there ( 😛 ).
Well MMT Fam, if you get out to see this one I would certainly like to hear your thoughts.
Until next thought, Thomasena