Collateral Beauty

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


  1. I loved Collateral Beauty! In fact I think it’s some of Wills best work. So glad I don’t listen to major media outlet reviews. I agree the twist is the best part although I figured it out early on in the movie. But for those who didn’t you could hear the pleasant gasps of surprise.


    1. This movie ripped my heart apart. I ran out of tissues. Will Smith rendered the audience helpless. His pain was so very raw and he owned it, not caring that he could lose everything he had worked for. Nothing else mattered but his grief, and he had dedicated the rest of his life to feeling this pain. Yet in spite of his own grief, he was cognizant of his partners’ pains as well. He should have received an Oscar nod for “Concussion”, and he probably will be ignored the accolades with this movie. It doesn’t matter…Will Smith is ALWAYS good. He is our homeboy from West Philly…we love his work and we will always support him. But this movie….words elude.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa M I agree the movie showed Will Smith in a different light.
    However, I did not review the trailer and during the movie I had wished I did. Losing a child is never easy. There was a part that touched a nerve and had me in my bag of emotions because they did their research. The part where Edward Norton said, Its been three years how long does he need or something like that I was livid because it brought back some painful memories. If you have loss a child this movie can serve as assisting you to see you on the screen and assist other in how to approach or assist you. Everyone needs time to adjust to the loss of a child there is no specific time frame to be healed. The one thing I have learned is that you learn how to go throw life carrying the collateral beauty with you. I guess I was looking for everything and anything throughout the movie.
    I do not think I would have this on repeat for holidays either Thomasena.
    Hope you are feeling better and Happy Holidays

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Terasa for sharing your personal experience with us. The one thing about grief is it is personal, and has no specific time frame. I agree with you, that the key is learning to live through it. This movie definitely attempts to teach that lesson. I don’t want to spoil for others, but will say the very last image Howard has is key! Remember the person with him did not see.


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