Film Review – Collateral Beauty (2016)

Title – Collateral Beauty (2016)

Director – David Frankel (Marley and Me)

Cast – Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Jacob Latimore, Naomie Harris

Plot – Grieving and reclusive marketing executive Howard (Smith) finds his world interrupted by Death (Mirren), Time (Latimore) and Love (Knightly), actors who’ve secretly been recruited by Howard’s colleagues Whit (Norton), Claire (Winslet) and Simon (Pena) to make Howard love life once again.

“We don’t get to choose who we love or who loves us back”

Review by Eddie on 28/04/2017

His got some runs on the board when it comes to schmaltzy and sentimental dramas with the likes of The Pursuit of Happyness and to a lesser extent 7 Pounds, but continuing on with a worrying amount of recent misfires, Hollywood playmaker Will Smith finds himself a side character in David Frankel’s misguided and trite Collateral Beauty.

Trying all at once to be both a feel good holiday period event, a heartbreaking tale of grief, loss and of course love as well as an awkward comedy. Beauty is one of those tonally off films that very early on suggests an uneasiness with its material and despite Frankel showcasing form in the past with films like Marley and Me and The Devil Wears Prada, he along with a seriously underdeveloped A-list cast get lost in a dire story of Will Smith’s depressed marketing bigwig, that never once threatens to capture our hearts.

As Smith’s Howard struggles to escape the black hole of depression after his young daughter passes away, his loving (more so money hungry) colleagues in the form of Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Kate Winslet recruit the help of a trio of actors played by Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly and Jacob Latimore to pretend to be Death, Love and Time to make Howard love life again and start making money for the company.

It’s a truly odd story, one that may’ve worked had it been handled by someone in the form of Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze but produced here with the oversaturated cheese that Hollywood is known to produce, Frankel’s film feels fake, forced and forgettable as well as a curious waste of Smith’s time and name brand recognition.

Relegated to what feels like a bit player in a story that is supposed to be about him, Howard gives Smith one of his worst roles outside of After Earth and Winter’s Tale as we’re barely allowed time or insight into Howard’s life or history of what made him such a stand-up guy in the first place.

We get ample looks at Howard making domino courses, riding his bike angrily around New York City and eventually conversations he has with a token love interest in the form of Naomie Harris’s grief counsellor Madeline (whose role feels completely thrown into an already overcrowded support cast) but Howard’s fly-in-fly-out nature in the film supposedly about him makes us care very little for what his going through despite the fact we know we clearly should.

Final Say –    

There’s nothing wrong with a little Hollywood heart-string pulling but Collateral Beauty is a deserved critical and commercial flop. With a wasted cast, a rather cringe worthy story and an ending that will likely have you rolling your eyes; Frankel’s film ends up being another sad chapter in Will Smith’s recent career output.

1 thrown skateboard out of 5

12 responses to “Film Review – Collateral Beauty (2016)

  1. Good review. This movie had a great cast and the story’s premise is interesting, but the narrative reasoning behind it all is terrible and almost deplorable, despite the movie trying to justify the reasoning behind it.

  2. When I saw the numerous trailers for this movie I felt it would be one of those manipulative stories that indicates every emotion. You have just proven my hunch as being correct.

  3. Thank you for the review. I was curious to know why this movie didn’t have much of an impact at release. The trailer looked phenomenal, as I remember it anyway.

  4. I remember being so angry with this film, it wasn’t even funny. I actually have my review of it on my wordpress if you were curious about my own thoughts regarding the film. But I digress. The trailer’s misrepresentation of the film was frustrating enough, but the fact that almost none of the characters were likeable, along with the ridiculous “twist” ending made me wish I had spent my money elsewhere. Probably the worst film I had seen in 2016.

    • I can imagine how I would’ve felt if I had paid the ticket price at the cinema for it ha. It’s funny as I do find there might be a great story here but it was done completely wrong.

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