Collateral Beauty has almost everything you could want from a holiday release.  Pretty decorated cast, promising premise, and a trailer that tugs the heartstrings.

The story is pretty self explanatory from the trailer, grieving father Howard (Smith) is losing touch with the world and his company after the death of his 6 year old daughter.  In an effort to reach out to the universe, he writes letters.  Emotional poetic letters addressed to the essences of Time, Death, and Love. Seems like a really good way to emotionally work through a trauma, right?

Howard’s business partners Whitt (Edward Norton), Simon (Michael Pena), and Claire (Kate Winslet) are busy trying to clean up the collateral damage from their boss’s absence.  Their advertising firm is losing big, lucrative clients, and so they decide forcing Howard to sell is the best course of action. Howard, however, is completely unreachable and pretty much ignores them.

Howard and Time
Howard and Time

Whitt gets it into his brain that tricking Howard into some kind of mental break would be the right thing to do in this instance.  He hires a trio of ‘actors’ to play the parts of Death (Dame Helen Mirren), Time (Jacob Latimore), and Love (Kiera Knightly) in an effort to provoke a response from Howard that would cause his executive voting power to come into question. Such AWESOME friends, launching an elaborate scheme to make him question his sanity and push his professional life in the middle of traffic.

Howard and Death

A bit more of each business partner’s lives are revealed in subsequent scenes. Simon has terminal cancer, and is in the process of dying. Claire wants to have children, but as she gets older her time runs short. Whitt cheated on his wife subsequently causing divorce, which causes his young daughter to proclaim “I hate you”.  The Essences take interest in each of the partners, and the audience is left questioning if maybe, just maybe, these three ARE the thing they pretend to be.

Howard and Love
Howard and Love

It’s been more than a little while since Will Smith delivered a REALLY solid performance, and there are some powerful moments in his delivery.  Knightly, whom I normally don’t care for, is surprisingly deep and charming. Helen Mirren is forever the best thing in pretty much any film she does,her Death is light and wise.  Jacob’s anger, at being called out and questioned, is the highlight performance, easily holding his own alongside an Oscar winning cast.

SCORE: 2 OUT OF 5, viewed in standard non 3D screening

I was totally invested in everything; performances, plot, dialog, I was IN.  But the ending felt utterly rushed and incomplete.  We do get some resolution with Howard, but the rest of the things put in motion are simply dropped.  It almost felt like there was another 15-20 minutes that didn’t make it into the final cut.

The dialog also felt too polished at times, some of the elegant prose fell flat, through no fault of the cast.  Collateral Beauty should definately be viewed in tandem with A Monster Calls, and I would go so far as to say they complement each other.

Collateral Beauty opens worldwide on Friday, December 16th 2016.


ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
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