Film Review: “Collateral Beauty”

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Reviews
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

“Collateral Beauty” tells the story of a grieving man who loses all hope in the universe after he suffers the tragic loss of his 6-year-old daughter.

From this painful incident, Howard, as portrayed by Will Smith (“The Pursuit of Happiness” and “Independence Day”), becomes the opposite person he was before tragedy struck him. Howard turns into an introvert; he’s closed off and even forces himself into solitude which causes conflict in his work and relationships.

Through his grieving, Howard begins to write letters to abstract love, time and death in an attempt to cope. The three abstracts that Howard writes to every day unexpectedly respond to him and this sends him on a search for answers that changes the usual routine he has followed the past few years.

“Collateral Beauty” is about the process of grief and how a person tries to manage the immense pain that comes from the death of a loved one. Smith’s character struggles to find this acceptance.

This storyline had the potential to be immensely stimulating and introspective, but was somewhat unsuccessful and unfulfilling. Maybe the concept was a little too deep for a director who mainly produces comedies, but even the story itself, written by Allan Loeb, seemed to have holes that needed filling.

Unfortunately, the two-minute film trailer looked to be a better and more effective accumulation of scenes than the feature itself.

There were many tear-jerking moments as one would expect in a story about grief, but the storyline didn’t feel complete in the end. It felt more open-ended than one may desire, leaving viewers confused with many unanswered questions. The lack of clarity made it difficult to interpret the film as a whole.

In the end, audiences are left wondering if one thing happened because of another or if certain people were actually fabrications of Howard’s mind. This could possibly be the result of mediocre performances from a star-studded cast that is expected more from. The cast included Keira Knightley (“Love Actually”), Edward Norton (“Fight Club”), Kate Winslet (“Titanic”), Simon, as portrayed by Michael Peña and Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”).

It’s hard for Smith to be recognized for a character that doesn’t really say much in the story besides expressions of hurt or anger. Though Howard was full of internal emotion, Smith’s performance didn’t extract the emotion his character retained.

The most powerful scene in the film was when Howard is speaking with Love (Keira Knightley) expressing how heartbroken and disappointed he was because Love let him down by taking his daughter. Love responds by saying, “I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here in your pain,” hoping to convince him not to give up and to believe in love again.

“Collateral Beauty” provides a story that many grieving souls can relate to, showing what it is like when it feels as though the world has betrayed everything they’ve lived for. Inclusively, the film shows us the possible repercussions some can face if they don’t continue to live life through the love that was there before pain. It’s a matter of embracing pain through the power of love and thus, letting love heal the soul.

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