Collateral Beauty Reviewed by Jon E Clist

The Premise
When a successful New York advertising executive suffers a great tragedy, he retreats from life. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Love, Time and Death. But it's not until his notes bring unexpected personal responses that he begins to understand how these constants interlock in a life fully lived, and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.

The Review
At first glance Collateral Beauty looks like just another sad tale of trying to overcome from Will Smith. So of course there is the expectation that this film will be just another utilising the same formula as The Pursuit of Happyness or 8 Pounds or similar. For the first third it certainly felt that it was heading in the direction. Then the story kind of changed up a little and the light at the end of the cinematic tunnel was switched on.

In the US Collateral Beauty had a very low opening weekend, mainly due to it being released the same weekend as Rogue One. I really have no idea why any film executive would have thought it to be a good idea to go up against a Star Wars film? In general mainstream films need a solid opening weekend in order to build momentum at the box office and it certainly feels like pushing a lead box up hill. An absolute losing situation. Anyway, I personally think that the poor opening weekend is not a good representation of the quality of this film, neither is some of the critics critical critique. Normally I would say something like, regardless of the critics this film will do the business. Not sure of that in this case.

The film boasts an all-star cast featuring not only the Fresh Prince, he is also joined by Ed Norton, Dame Helen Mitten, Kate Winslet and the sometimes-annoying Kiera Knightly. Talk about box office pulling power… oh hang on… Rogue One. Both Winslet and Mitten are Oscar winners while Norton, Knightly and Smith have all been previously nominated for the golden statues of goodness. For the most part each plays their roles well and brings the necessary drama or playfulness to the characters. Will Smith spends the majority of the film looking gaunt and depressed and perfectly withdrawn as the father of a girl who was lost to a rare form of Cancer. In a similar vein to I Am Legend, Smith’s character says very little for the most part of the film but when he does speak it is rather poignant and powerful.

The rest of the cast are pretty awesome and I think that for me it was Ed Norton as the flawed father trying to connect with his daughter added a level in the script that I wasn’t expecting and fattened up the drama a little more. Will Smith praised the whole cast by saying, "If we are all judged by the company we keep ... then I want this cast with me for life!"

The Verdict
Overall this is a lovely and somewhat moving film that plays with the senses and may bring some tears. This film was a lot better than I was expecting.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 12th January 2017
Rating: M – Contains offensive language
Duration: 97 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet
Director: David Frankel (Hope Springs, Marley and Me)

The Extras
Hugh Jackman was originally attached to star but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and was later replaced by Will Smith.

A role was offered to Rachel McAdams but a deal could not be reached due to scheduling conflicts with McAdams' Doctor Strange (2016).

This will be the first time Naomie Harris and Keira Knightley have worked together since Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).

Rooney Mara was originally attached to star but dropped out for unknown reasons.

The alter ego for Love played by Keira Knightley is named Aimee Moore. Aimee comes from the French verb "aimer," or "to love," so her name arguably means "loved more."

Original director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon exited the project over creative differences with studio New Line Cinema.