While Collateral Beauty was advertised as an emotional drama centered on Will Smith’s character, this is not the case at all. In fact, Will Smith isn’t even the main character of this movie, as we actually follow the story of his best friend and business partner, Whit (Edward Norton). It’s been two years since Howard’s (Will Smith) daughter died, and ever since then he’s been in a constant state of grief, so much so that it’s going to jeopardize his company and get everybody fired. Whit, with the help of Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pena), decide to do something about this, hiring actors to play the roles of Love (Keira Knightley), Death (Helen Miren) and Time (Jacob Latimore) in the hopes of tricking Howard into moving on and leaving his company behind. Yeah… Unfortunately that’s not a joke.
The film fails in every aspect to gain emotional investment in any of the characters, and it goes on to treat them with no dignity whatsoever. The characters presented are not nice people, and there’s not a single moment where they seem troubled by what they’re doing. Well, with the exception of one out of place moment that’s soon forgotten and moved on from. Will Smith’s daughter died, and while that creates automatic empathy with him, there’s nothing about his character either that’s remotely compelling. He is, as with every cast member, two dimensional and distant from the audience.
Granted, it did have the potential to create a great movie. All the pieces were placed perfectly and well-aligned in order to make something that could’ve been an Oscar winner, rather than a failed Oscar bait. If the premise was taken in a different direction, the characters were fleshed out a bit more, and everything wasn’t so insulting and manipulative, this could’ve been a really good movie. There are so many simple, easily avoidable things that could’ve been fixed in order to create a better film that just don’t happen. How so many talented people looked at the screenplay and said, “Yeah, this will be a good film,” will forever be a mystery.
To sum up, Collateral Beauty only just came out this weekend here in Australia, fitting as it was just Friday the 13th, but if I had seen it last year, there’s a 100% guarantee it would’ve made it onto my 10 Worst Films of the Year. Manipulative, boring and stupid, it’s a film with potential left unfulfilled.
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