Collateral Beauty (2016)


Collateral Beauty followed the trend of Christmas releases that are designed to prey on our emotions during a time of family and togetherness. With a collection of talented actors, the film was sure to do well. However, its success was eclipsed by that of Disney’s release Rogue One. The film did reasonably well when considering its worldwide performance but had a high budget of $36m, most likely due to its A-list stars including Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet and Keira Knightley.

The film explores human emotion from the very beginning, starting with the ‘why?’ as Smith explains as our motivation for living simplified into three entities, time, death and love. During the film, these entities become all too real for Will Smith’s character Howard who is dealing with the devastating loss of his daughter. Collateral Beauty exploits our raw emotions through the relationships in the film and the characters attempt to save themselves, the company and Howard.

These relationships intertwine with each other and are made to reveal the beauty of life through death, time and love and how far Howard’s friends are willing to go to try and help bring meaning back into a sad, empty man’s life. The overall concept for the film is simple, a man tries to find meaning when his world crumbles and falls, this could be represented by Howard’s obsession with dominos, as he tries to build his life back up through confrontations with parts of life that he thinks have wronged him.

The film is a journey of acceptance, that the world may not have to mean and that his daughter is gone.

Through the intense performance by Will Smith, the audience is allowed to truly connect and sympathise with his character and his loss. The film may also be attempting to portray a different light to Christmas for people, not just as a happy occasion for all, though this may be looking too far into this Warner Brothers/New Line production.

Collateral Beauty is a fantastical drama that explores grief and reality through characters portraying entities of life such as death, time and love. An impossible reality made real for Howard through the intervention of his friends, in an attempt to help his company and his grief.  The film is almost theatrical in its staging of this characters, as they try and unpick human behaviour and life to help Howard, appearing in restaurants, parks and subway stations. This is crafted in an attempt to prove their reality and Howard’s insanity.

The themes of the film are clear, love, death, time, friendship, family and togetherness all of which create a truly emotional Christmas film. But it is just a that, a film that plucks the heart strings with an interesting perspective and a quality cast of actors.


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