Thursday, 12 January 2017

Film Review: Collateral Beauty

Collateral Beauty reminds me of Tom Hiddleston's recent "inelegantly expressed" Golden Globes speech - good intentions, poor, poor execution. To the point where you question it's intentions. 10 - 15 minutes in and you know the plot has gone to a place of no return. As in, nothing can be done to undo the damage. And so it's likely you'll sit there and start counting its cinema sins - of which there are many.


The film follows Will Smith's Howard, a successful advertising executive who falls into a deep depression after his young daughter dies and, stays in this dark place for about 3 years. To cope, he writes three letters to the abstract love, time and death. Now as you may or may not have seen, in the film's trailer, the letters "respond". Which is likely what pulled you in because how does that happen? Well rather than take the route of magical realism and actually make an effort to pull it off and explore the motif of grief in a new way; what's actually going is that Howard's business partners and "friends" - played by Ed Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena (#namedandshamed) decide to hire a private investigator and three struggling actors to play the three abstracts. Their plan is that if they can get the investigator to follow him, and film the conversations he has with these actors and then digitally remove them, he'll look crazy and lose his job. Funnily enough, Collateral Beauty then tries painstakingly hard to to convince us, that this whole plan came about organically. It would honestly have been more meaningful, and realistic, were they just figments of his imagination.


What isn't surprising, is that the partners themselves have their own issues. And so what director David Frankel, is trying to get at is in their own warped way the human incarnations of love, time and death, have a thing or two to say about love, time and death. Deep? No.

It's as if David Frankel decided let's put everyone's favourite elements into a film. Everyone likes Christmas - let's make it a holiday film. National sweethearts? Throw in Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet. Grief films do well right? There is genuinely a scene where Howard is trying to commit suicide, as Christmas lights twinkle in the background.

Collateral Beauty uses it's all-star cast and misleading premise, as a money grab at best, and cynical and exploitative at worst. There is however a forcibly signalled twist towards the end, I'll give it gets points for that.



1 comment

  1. I wasn't too interested in seeing Collateral Beauty from the trailer, but I'm sorry to say I'll be giving it even more of a miss now. It sounds like they could have done something different with this, but instead created something confusing and uninteresting - what a shame!


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