Okay we get it. The theme of Collateral Beauty was purely based on grief, and so it had all the good actors attracted to it naturally. They had a beautiful imaginative script, and if you read something like that on a paper, it does sound good. Unfortunately when you try to play it, it becomes plain stupid. That’s what happened with the gloomy David Frankel project.
Plot and Direction of Collateral Beauty (Spoilers)
All fingers don’t just point towards Allan Loeb‘s sad script, one of the middle one points towards the movie’s direction too. David Frankel still has a lot to learn about subtlety. It’s absence shows in his work at so many occasions that it makes you want to shake your head. You end up getting a cramp because it is lodged throughout the flick.
To begin with let’s take the character of Will Smith into account. Howard is a man that snaps out right at the prologue. He doesn’t hand us over even a second to relate to him. Then you think maybe, just maybe, the reason for his anguish might be inbound for a thorough melodramatic coverage in the later half, and that it would help us come to his frequency. But unfortunately you never crack his psychotic level at all. Very unconvincing!
The description of his grief starts when his co-workers Claire, Whit and Simon, played by Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Michael Pena respectively, gossip behind his back talking about the why, the what and the how of “aftermath daughter death”. It flings us into the primal plot almost immediately. So, we actually know the paramount reason right in the beginning of the movie itself.
Then starts dispensable charades. Tons of them actually, where you see Howard nodding his head in agreement as if listening to what people are saying to him, and then deliberately ignoring them. Then we see Claire leaving things for him that stay untouched. Whit trying to come up with ideas that puts questions against his friendship with Howard. Oh! oh! and Simon, Michael Pena’s character begins to cough suddenly out of nowhere just for the sake of creating sub-plots.
The sub-plots. Don’t even get me started on them! Horrible! Why were they even there in the first place? Oh right unless the writer wanted to come back to it at a later point? Heights of the platitude!
Movie tries to personify love, time and death. And it does so with characters of Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Jacob Latimore. Then you see these characters suddenly focus their spotlight towards people who had hired them instead. Stories you don’t want to worry about suddenly becomes their prime concern. And these issues are so irrelevant to the main tale, that you know for sure something’s up. And then lo! You can see through it all. All of it! You see the predictable climax appear from far away.
The only thing you don’t see coming is Madeleine‘s bizarre angle portrayed by Naomie Harris, which shows us Howard visiting her as a stranger. And the only reason you don’t see that coming is because they both act like absolute strangers. But even when that gets uploaded on the big screen, you can’t help but giggle.
Focusing on the good stuff, as I generally do, Will Smith goes in full acting mode when he tries to overcome figments of his head. When he shouts at them trying to justify his case, he leaves them in a vexed mode. That’s where you get to see his wound slash open. So if you are a Will Smith diehard fan you are going to enjoy that incessant frown on his head.
Also, you see Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Edward Norton toil really hard to deliver their bits. Even though it appears like a resounding debacle, never for a second they let you feel anything amiss. There is real pain in Kate’s
“I am really sorry, Howard!”
and there’s genuine concern in them Norton eyes for his daughter. Real blush lurks on the semblance of Keira and there’s real distress in Smith’s eyes.
You can pre-order Collateral Beauty from here:
Screenplay is so cliched that it hurts your ears when you try to listen to them. Okay I am exaggerating there. What is worse is that it gets delivered by theater actors (at least that was intended in the first place) who think a cliched definition is all a grieving person needs to listen to. Some of them are actually pretty good too, but the smart stuff is intentionally kept for the hero to deliver.
The Final Verdict
It’s almost as if I tell you the story of Collateral Beauty you might actually like it, and not think of it as something cheesy. But when you actually see it get dramatized and performed by actors you begin to realize how idiotic it truly looks, and that it was better off as a script unplayed.
Despite Collateral Beauty has stellar actors in the vanguard, it falls owing to its unrealistic and super contrived look and feel. Some scenes are simply out of the blue and context for that to matter.
It could have been so much better if David Frankel had decided not to helm it. Even better handed it over to Spike Jonze instead and taken some time off to concentrate on comedies instead.
You can check out the trailer of Collateral Beauty movie here: