Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Will Smith – Howard Inlet
Keira Knightley – Amy / Love
Edward Norton – Whit Yardshaw
Helen Mirren – Brigitte / Death
Michael Peña – Simon Scott
Kate Winslet – Claire Wilson
Jacob Latimore – Raffi / Time
Naomie Harris – Madeleine
Probably the most interesting element of Collateral Beauty is how three random people are selected by one man to approach a colleague of his in public, to try and heal him through the power of words. Whit (Norton) and his two colleagues know their boss is grieving the loss of his son, and so employ three thespians from a local theatre to act as three life elements; Time. Love. Death.
Each one (Mirren, Latimore, Knightley) approach Howard during daily life as he goes about his business, I.E. Brigitte (Death) wandering along and sitting down next to Howard on a park bench and speaking to him. Tells him she (her trait) is part of everyone’s life, etc. I must say, with her naturally dry humour and sultry appearance, Mirren had me laughing softly at this. The old bird does it well and is very entertaining. Knightley as Love is just effective – especially when she sits down at the same table as Howard in a restaurant and starts crying through frustration. As she was speaking I could feel that classic ‘frown and smile’ facial expression happening on mine; you know where something is so ridiculously fun you can’t help but smile – whilst frowning at the same time.
And when Raffi skateboards into the picture as Time, the movie gets a bit violent. Howard is then filmed by one of the ‘producers’ taking a swing at the young actor – which is then cleverly edited and subsequently played in front of his company’s board of directors later on..
This entire concept was very unique, I’ve not seen anything like it before in the movies. It’s the perfect blend of emotional drama and comedy; a grieving man who can’t get over his loss and three random strangers who enter his world to gently try to assist with the process. I must say, Collateral Beauty being released on December 26th (UK) was perfect; mainly because it made such a watchable piece of festive cinema.
The day after you’ve stuffed yourself silly with all sorts of fatty and fizzy shit (just because you can – you can do this at any other time of year but somehow December 25th gives you the total authority to over indulge. Mad, eh?) what better way to digest all the calories than a nice festive flick you don’t have to focus on too much. And this is it.
As I sat down in the auditorium of this Haymarket cinema, it felt good. Christmas carnage was over and it was time to relax with my Starbucks vente latte and a mince pie. Various young couples were dotted around, a few older people down the front.. Collateral Beauty seemed to attract the more mature viewer – and me. High on froth. The atmosphere in the theatrical Piccadilly Circus cinema was rather solemn that day; this lot certainly weren’t the rowdy bunch of East London terrors you find at the O2 when a pumping flick like Fast and Furious is showing. (yes – avoid the O2 arena when something loud is showing. It turns into a fucking zoo).
Sometimes, I can sense just by the audience what sort of movie it is I’ve gone to watch. And Collateral Beauty was certainly more of an impassioned one.
I wasn’t wrong. And to be honest, this movie tilted more on the sad side of the scales than upbeat. Especially scenes involving Howard. By god, it was depressing stuff..
By the time the filming of this movie came to a close, Will Smith must have felt horrible. Because the actor spends literally 95% of Collateral Beauty crying. Whenever Howard is on screen, he is either wandering around looking miserable (to the point of his own face caving in) or delivering a hearty speech with tears streaming down his cheeks. Yes, Will is constantly wet during this movie and if you’re hoping for the usual macho-witty performance from him – don’t. He is a mess in this.
But I won’t overlook the actor’s work because although depression personified, Smith gives it his all. The man certainly portrays a grieving father with gusto, his work is flawless. An incredibly believable performance. And perhaps this is why most of his scenes were so dreary – because the actor was actually doing what he was being paid to do. But again, if you’re expecting upbeat Smith – don’t. This is dreary stuff.
Collateral Beauty is one of those ‘randoms’ that entertains for a good hour or so and carries a deep meaning in its plot, but ultimately fails to deliver the goods in terms of originalty. It’s basically a bunch of ashen-faced New York office employees trying to cheer up their boss but getting a lot of aggression in return. It’s not the most chirpy of flicks, but is saved nicely by Mirren who, in all her elderly glory, keeps the dull action very watchable with a heartfelt performance and a few witty lines. You can rely on the woman to ‘funny up’ any movie with her dry humour, and it works well in Collateral Beauty.
A simple, festive watch despite its undercurrent of total sadness.