Director: David Frankel
What do you call a movie with star studded cast which could win Oscars but still fails to impress most people? It’s called a misunderstood movie! It does not matter which leading actor or actress you cast but matters is that whether the movie has been successful in hitting the mark it was aiming for. Collateral Beauty is one such example where the hype of the movie was quite high before release due to it’s heavyweight stars line up but it still was a miss with critics and masses.
Collateral Beauty is a movie which can either turn heads and make you love it or you’d just pass it on as an Oscar bait type. There have been such movies in 2016 such as Denial starring Rachel Weisz about holocaust denial case based on a true event. Then there was Hacksaw Ridge based on WWII event. Jackie was another one based on the real life story of Jackie Kennedy, first lady of USA and widow of John F. Kennedy. There are movies which actually make sense to be made as they are either part of history or have a very compelling story to tell. Collateral Beauty is one with a compelling story but execution is where it does not satisfy completely.
The story is about Howard (Will Smith), a businessman running a successful advertising company, who is struck by a tragedy when his 6 year old daughter dies. The tragedy takes it toll on Howard and he loses interest in everything. His partners, who are also his close friends, are worried of his deteriorating condition and interest in the company and decides to do something about it. There is a deal in the pipeline where another company is willing to buy them out and continue the business but since most shares are with Howard, all other partners cannot make the deal happen. They hire an investigator to find out what Howard is up to and are surprised to learn that he writes letters to Lover, Time & Death, 3 things Howard believes are interlinked in life. Whit, played by Edward Norton, is Howard’s best friend and he makes a plan to hire actors in order to give a personalized response from Love, Time & Death. They hire actors and rest is what pretty much the trailer shows as well.
Will Smith is a very talented actor and he has given some of the best performances in non-action movies. I particularly loved his role of Chris Gardner for the movie “In Pursuit of Happyness”. He has been shy of getting an Oscar nod despite giving Oscar worthy performance in recent years. In this particular movie, he did play his part quite convincingly of a grieving father who is lost in life and doesn’t have a clue how to move forward. He is looking for someone to help him out but cannot express himself. After the encounters with Love (Kiera Knightly), Death (Helen Mirren) & Time (Jacob Latimore), he begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel and realises that life goes on despite having lost someone close to him. I personally felt for his role in the movie and there are moments which can be categorized as tear jerkers but overall it wasn’t something I’d call an amazing performance but it was alright.
Edward Norton, Kate Winslet & Michael Pena have all done well but the noteworthy performance is of Michael Pena as Simon who is sick and dying but wants to leave enough money for his family before he dies. His anger and frustration is what makes his small but important role effective.
Overall the movie has a message and that is to look through the life and find beauty of everything around you. Life goes on and it may get tough sometimes but one needs to rely on the loved ones and the ones who truly care for them in order to get through the tough phase. A dramatic movie which requires attention while watching so do take some time out and watch it with an open mind. It does drag a bit in the middle but it is a good watch.