Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
Release Date: December 16, 2016
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Grade: B+ Rating: PG-13, 94 minutes In a Nutshell: I really love two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith and I was so excited to see this film after the trailer practically had me in tears. SPOILER: The trailer is a bit deceiving. The film isn’t quite what you think it’s going to be. For that and other reasons, a lot of film critics are ripping this emotional drama to shreds, stating that it’s manipulative and overly sappy with fortune cookie wisdom. Well, I agree that it may be all of those things, but I also think they’re missing an opportunity to reflect inward and learn some of the life lessons this insightful film attempts to teach us. What would you say if you could talk to Time, Death, and Love? An even more interesting question is what would they say to you? Uplifting theme: ‘Just be sure to notice the collateral beauty. It is the profound connection to everything.” – Madeline (Naomie Harris) “What is your why?” – Howard (Will Smith) “We’re here to connect. Life is about people.” – Howard “We don’t get to choose who we love and who loves us back.” – Whit (Edward Norton) “Tomorrow’s not promised.” – Howard “Your children don’t have to come from you; they come through you.” – Time Things I liked: The performances are really great. I love the entire cast. Will Smith digs deep for his performance that only a father in real life could do. Did you know he has won 4 Grammy Awards? He has been nominated for 5 Golden Globe Awards and 2 Academy Awards, but he hasn’t won those big boys yet. Surprising, right? Everyone loves him. He should have won an Oscar for The Pursuit Of Happyness. His performance in Concussion was outstanding, but he lost to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, which I can’t disagree with. I mean, DiCaprio practically blew himself up, ate a live fish, and got beat to a pulp, for heaven's sake! Academy Award winner Helen Mirren is a national treasure. I adore her. She just looked stunning in those blue feathers. She had some great lines and provided some depth and comic relief. I love her in everything. There is an interesting Domino metaphor. It cracked me up that Howard’s friends hired a private investigator who they said looked like a “Mormon grandmother.” Well, I’m a Mormon and can tell you that not all Mormon grandmothers look like that, but she really did. Ha ha I’ve been to New York City twice before, but never during the Christmas season. It looks so magical in December. Brigitte mentioned the movie Gaslight Have you seen it? I haven't either. I'm going to have to add that one to my list. Madeline tells Howard that 79% of couples divorce after losing a child. According to a recent study by at Montana State University-Billings, that’s pretty accurate, sadly. There’s a twist. I love twists. Well actually, it’s more of an unveiling. Still, it worked for me and drew out the expected tears that director David Frankel had intended. If you're looking for a therapeutic film about losing a loved one, adult or child, I highly recommend A Monster Calls, which is also currently in theaters. Things I didn’t like: Would you want such manipulative friends who go to such great lengths to prove that you’re crazy? We never really get to see a happy Will Smith with his daughter, so we feel less invested in them than if there had been some happy flashbacks or something. Well, yeah…it’s manipulative on every level. Some people don’t mind that. We saw a softer side of Michael Pena as Simon. His story line seemed extra contrived just so Death could make a point about something (although her point was a good one.) This incredibly talented ensemble’s talent was appreciated and enjoy, but mostly under-utilized. Interesting lines: “We long for love, we wish we had more time, we fear death.” = Howard “This doesn’t feel right.” – Claire (Kate Winslet) “I know, but when everything starts with a 6 year old dying, nothing is gonna feel right.” - Simon (Michael Pena) “Life is found when you shed your skin…..OR Shed your skin; find your life.” = Amy “I’m trying to fix my mind.” Howard “You lost a child, Howard. It’ll never be fixed.” – Madeline Profound lines about Love: “I realize that I wasn’t feeling love. I was becoming love.” – Whit “I am the only why. Please don’t try to live without me.” – Love “I’m the fabric of life.” – Love “I was there in her love, but I’m still here in your pain.” - Love “I’m love…the very fabric of life.” – Love “Love is the reason for everything.” – Love Profound lines about Death: “Nothing’s ever really dead if you look at it right.” – Brigitte “Death is so much more vital than time. Death gives time its value.” – Death “You’re dying?” – Death “Everyone’s dying.” – Simon “You lived right, my friend, but you’re not dying right.” – Profound lines about Time: “I’m abundant. I’m a gift.” – Time Funny lines: “I have depth. We’ve discussed this.” – Whit “The word you’re looking for is philanderer, not philanthropist. They have a slightly different meaning.” – Whit “I thought you can’t afford therapy anymore.” – Claire “I can’t. It’s my Uber driver.” – Whit Tips for parents: Talk of sex, cancer, death. 1 F-bomb and some other profanity. Children may be bored with this “talking” movie and certainly won't appreciate any of its profound truths, unless they have been through their own dark challenges.January 9th, 2017 · Details
In the same sort of spirit as It’s a Wonderful Life that features the angel-in-training Clarence, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in A Christmas Carol, this story gives Howard the chance to confront this trio of beings, that personify mankind’s greatest hopes and worries. The experience also stretches the actors as they are forced to find words of wisdom beyond their own, especially when they discover it isn’t Howard alone who is grappling with these concerns. Even though it is set in the holiday season, this overcoming-your-trails tale likely won’t be first choice on the list of festive activities. Featuring foul language (including a sexual expletive) along with mild sexual banter and mentions of infidelity, the greatest cause for apprehension from family audiences will undoubtedly be its themes of depression and heartache. However, the reminder to look for beauty even in the ugliest situations is a message worth celebrating.Click here to read the full review
If you've read anything about this film, you might have noticed how some critics have tried to nudge Collateral Beauty into the derogatory category of "Sappy Christmas Movie." And if you've seen this film's trailer—featuring a guy who's confronted by corporeal versions of Love, Time and Death—you might even be expecting a Dickensian Christmas Carol-like visitation story. But in fact, there's really nothing Christmasy about Collateral Beauty at all. There's no mention of a Savior. No jingle bells or carolers in the square. No falling snow on glistening city streets. It's just an emotional movie that happens to be coming out … at Christmas. That's not a critique. Just a necessary clarification. Collateral Beauty might best be described as a stylized, dramatic examination of our human frailties. More specifically, it addresses the sometimes debilitating anguish of suffering. Now, that may sound like a pretty bleak subject to spend two hours of moviegoing time with during the holidays. But it's handled here with an enthusiastic cinematic hand. The story is imaginative. The acting is solid. The resolution is emotional. The content is navigable. And the whole production feels like a mildly melodramatic stage play that isn't afraid to take its time and to wax poetic with its philosophical musings. You'll find no warm around-the-hearth moments or even thoughtful spiritual messages here. In fact, the film's dramatic ruminations are rather humanistic in their approach. But by the time the credits roll, you'll be thinking not only about the protagonist's choices, but about your own: the choices we all make as we trek through this painful, problematic and priceless journey we collectively call life.Click here to read the full review
What Works? Director David Frankel assembled a cast that includes two Oscar winners—Winslet and Mirren—and three nominees: Smith, Norton and Knightley. They are just as good as all that recognition would lead you to expect. Will Smith barely utters a word for the first 30 minutes or so, but he doesn't need to. Anyone who has mourned a lost loved one will recognize the authenticity of his grief. Mirren is another standout (no surprise there), but everyone pulls their weight. It probably helps that the stars have good material to work with. I know some reviewers will heap scorn on this feel-good story (currently 16% on RottenTomatoes), but I found the script to be funny, wrenching, charming, and powerful—often all at the same time. The trailer makes it seem like a simple fairy tale kind of thing, but there are layers upon layers upon layers to this plot... and if you're like me, once the final layer is revealed you'll want to watch it all over again to catch the nuances you missed the first time around. What Doesn't? Desperate times call for desperate measures, but Howard's friends betray him in a way that seems out of character for people who clearly love their grieving friend. Their actions are actually a little horrifying; the fact that it mostly comes out right in the end does not excuse the lengths they're willing to go. There's also so much going on: we have four storylines to follow and multiple characters to keep up with. Jumping from one story to the next can feel choppy and it's not always easy to remember what's up with each character when their turn comes. As for the title Collateral Beauty: it's 'explained' but not in any way that actually clarifies anything. Maybe I missed the point, but I still couldn't tell you what "collateral beauty" is supposed to be.Click here to read the full review
With the right tone, “Collateral Beauty’s” odd plot might have worked. But the weight of Howard’s pain makes the manipulation of his co-workers — which feels every bit as selfish as it does sincere — feel uncomfortable. Mild attempts at humor fall flat, and the twists and turns of the film’s final act feel both predictable and confusing at the same time. Comment on this story In a lot of ways, you could just say that Frankel overcooked some nice raw ingredients. The all-star cast is certainly giving their best, especially Smith, who spends most of the film in a shattered state near tears. But the noble performances aren’t enough to overcome the weaknesses of the story or the miscalculation of the tone. If there is a success in the film, it is in the origin of its title, which comes from an anecdote shared by Madeline. When her own daughter was dying in the hospital, a wise woman counseled her to watch for the collateral beauty of life, even in the midst of her pain. In a film so polluted by manipulation and well-intended stumbles, that message feels like the one gem worth taking home.Click here to read the full review
The raw elements of Smith’s acting anchor the more fanciful and symbolic elements of the story, tenderly told, with a conclusion of warmth, healing, and perhaps some connection to a fourth spirit, hope.Click here to read the full reviewDecember 15th, 2016 · Details