Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)

Seriously, what happened to Collateral Beauty? I saw a trailer for it once or twice last year, and then it just came and went. I can only assume it got buried under all the Oscar movies and Rogue One. Anyway, my good friend Jenna came to see the new house last night, and trying to find a movie that neither of us has seen yet can be quite the challenge, so we settled for Collateral Beauty. Besides, we both love Will Smith (who doesn’t?) so we couldn’t go too wrong.

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Howard (Will Smith) suffers a terrible family tragedy that throws his entire life off balance. In his despair, he writes letters to Love, Time and Death, pouring his sorrow into the words. What he doesn’t expect is a visit from Love, Time and Death themselves (a bit like Scrooge’s visits!) which makes him see things in another light.

collateral-beauty-mixed-reviewsSomething I find really cool about this movie is how much it seems to have split the opinions of the viewers. Check out it’s current ratings chart on Letterboxd! I haven’t seen a more split opinion since watching The Fountain, which for the record, I still don’t know how to feel about. The other thing I got excited about very early on is that this movie is very different to how the trailer makes it out to be. There is so, so much more to the story that what those 2 minutes show you. This was a good surprise, rather than a “what?” kind of Passengers surprise.

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As for the movie itself, it’s messy, sadly. It has a huge, star-studded cast (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley to name a few) and each has their own complicated story. There’s simply not enough time to get to know these characters well enough, so the emotions thrown at you don’t have a chance to really sink in, leaving you feeling like a bit of a monster for not really feeling anything for them. That said, they have interesting stories to be told, and given some extra time and better pacing, it could have been so good!

What you can’t argue with is Will Smith’s acting talent. I’m not sure if he was trying to bait the Academy with this movie (he was very quiet this year, no?) but his emotions feel genuine, and I can’t stand watching people cry, only because it makes me cry too! To tell you any more about this particular scene would spill into spoiler territory, and I really think if this is something you’d like to see then you should go in as blind as possible.

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I’m sure if I watched this again I’d pick up on all sorts of plot holes, but as a one-time experience, I really enjoyed it. It’s a movie with so much heart and a lot to say, so it’s a shame it wasn’t paced very well or in-depth enough. One thing I will say is that the ending in particular is shocking; for better or worse will depend on each individual viewer, but it’s an ending I certainly won’t forget for a long time.

Whether you love it or hate it, Collateral Beauty is a movie that’ll get any movie fan talking at least. I give the movie 3 and a half falling dominoes out of 5!

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18 thoughts on “Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)

  1. Welp, I’m sold now.

    I mean, who isn’t a sucker for a film with a cast like this? My goodness. I forgot half of those people were in it.

    Fingers crossed that Smith one day gets that statue. He’s been working hard for it!

    Lovely post!

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  2. Nice review! I remember seeing the trailer for this over the holidays, and felt like seeing it in theaters but the negative reviews were a little disappointing. I might try to check this one out if I can!

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    • I think if you go in expecting a hard hitting, serious drama at the Oscar-level, you’l ldefinitely be disappointed. Sadly I think that’s what they were going for, but there’s still a lot of enjoyment to be had!

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  3. Your comment about the ending has me interested. I also wondered about this movie as it did seem to just come and go. I need to add it to the ever-growing list of movies I missed late last year!

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  4. I agree with your rating but for me three and half stars is a good film. The critics have been harsh with this one but I think most of them miss the point. Forgive me for quoting myself, but my review concludes: “If this film was re-imagined with the cast in 17th Century costumes and Howard as the innkeeper of the best establishment in the land, with the three actors, Death, Time, and Love played as ephemerals that materialised and then disappeared, it would be described as a universal tale of Shakespearean proportions. But instead, it is only a highly original modern-day story in an age where originality is hard to find.”

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    • You said it perfectly! I’m glad you feel the same about my rating. Always take mine with a pinch of salt, I try to rate based on my enjoyment rather than the quality of the movie itself. The original Sharknado might get a similar score from me but it’s clearly an awful movie! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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