In this latest Will Smith tearjerker, Smith plays Howard, a father who lost their six year old daughter to an illness 3 years ago and is still dealing with the loss. This affects every aspect of his life; job, social life, marriage, etc. to the point where the company he once built with his business partner, Witt, is now in jeopardy of dying.
As you’ve seen from the trailers, Howard writes letters to Death, Time and Love in hopes of alleviating his grief and pain towards his loss. This is where the movie takes a slight turn of events that I didn’t expect. I won’t go into detail because it’s a pleasant surprise that shifts the storyline I expected slightly to a different path, but overall doesn’t harm the narrative. It simply forces a showdown later in the movie that you see is building throughout the entire runtime and you are just waiting for it to happen so the real growth can begin. Cryptic…I know, but once you see it, you’ll understand and I wouldn’t want to rob you of any small or big surprises from this movie because outside of Smith’s monologues of pain and anguish, Collateral Beauty is a very simple movie geared towards folks who have little to no interest in Rogue One this weekend. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Many critics (with actual credentials) are panning this film as being bad or boring and I wouldn’t got that far. I think the best description I’ve read about Collateral Beauty is from Buzzfeed where they describe it as a Coldplay lyric come to life. I can get behind that.
As stated before, Smith turns in a good performance, albeit a safe one. In my opinion, he’s experienced being in Hollywood movie jail (it’s a real thing) once After Earth was released and ever since he’s been trying to slowly creep back into the movie-going audiences good graces by performances in Concussion and Suicide Squad which could potentially get its own spin-off and we all can agree that he needs his own franchise to catapult him back into true Hollywood A-list status. So I believe it is safe to say that for Smith, Collateral Beauty was just that, safe.
What saves this film from falling into the realm of coming across as corny or hokey is Howard’s pain. It’s real and you can empathize with what he’s experiencing because everyone has experienced loss on some scale therefore the feelings onscreen are nothing foreign. Also, the loss of one’s child is something that can never be pandered in film in my opinion. How much you may have against the story at large, supporting actors or ending can be separated from the central conflict; a father trying to cope with the loss of his child to something out of his control.
Yes, I understand that I might come across as too forgiving towards Collateral Beauty as a film, but I enjoyed it and it made me feel something, which is more than many many many other movies I’ve seen this year. That alone counts for something with my approach towards gauging a film. Collateral Beauty is nothing special in terms of plot or acting, but I came away liking the film and was no worse for having seen it. I fully admit that I’m writing this from a place of objectivity and emotion, but I could argue that it would be the exact point of the existence of a movie such as this.
Collateral Beauty is a good date movie or matinee watch. To see it opening weekend wouldn’t be a mistake by any means, but to hedge your bets and avoid the feeling of buyer’s remorse I guess I’m playing it safe by advising you to see it when you can save the most money. I did enjoy it and would recommend it to others despite what other “professionals” might say.
COLLATERAL BEAUTY – 4 GARYS