Collateral Beauty – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

collateral-beautyCollateral Beauty – 2.5/5 –  Marking the end of the year are your typical ‘Oscar bait’ films.  They are a dime a dozen; with some of them trying hard but failing because of various reasons.  Collateral Beauty is a film brimming with many great actors/actresses within an intensely styled inspirational tale.  Even for the highlights and promise; this film fails to reach its potential.  Even for a stand out performance from Will Smith, Collateral Beauty turns out to be just another run of the mill Melodramatic ensemble film.

Premise:  After a tragic event; one man must find a way to live by speaking to Death, Time and Love.

For a lot of the problems, the highlight to this film is its main character:

Will Smith as Howard

Commanding the screen with strong charisma, Smith brings about an honest complexion of what would be found within a broken man.  He is caught within the window of despair because of a tragic death.  From this, you get to see the purity of true acting as Smith brings about an evolution of the fragile state of one man’s emotional roller coaster.  Through some heavy driven dialogue and wonderfully witty interaction, Smith shows how great of an actor he is in when given the freedom to lead a drama.  He shows that rawness through the humanizing experience of depression; showing a person that is trying to push through life with a lot of pain.  Outside of him, the rest of the actors/actresses do the best they can with the characters that are written.  With no real weight behind their development, the ensemble (as referred by the IMDb page) use their own methodical approach to provide some kind of human bravado around the main character.  Most of the secondary cast are only used for long situational monologues to create some sort of connection to the overall plot.  Because of this obvious intent, you never really care about what happens to them.  The lacking of character depth trickles down to the rest of the story.

The direction found here can only be described as lackluster.  The tragedy isn’t found within the central ‘death in the family’ storyline, but in the way that their director tackles the story itself.  With no real attempt to create a connection through an emotional draw, the promising character dynamics that are brought up becomes hollow.  Outside of the main plot point, the plethora of side stories are left to wander incomprehensibly through the film’s direction.  With all the potential, the film just leaves threads dangling as it moves forward into a predictable linear path.  The audience become witness to situational ‘prophetic’ events that become uninspiring themes.  The repetition of the ‘expositional driven’ moments creates a second act of scenes that just move all around through the individual ‘side stories’ with no cohesion.  It does this through a very common dramatic plot technique:

A personal conflict ensues > A human problem left unanswered > miracle (convenient plot device) like conclusion

Combine this with the overexerting of melodramatic acting (of the secondary cast), it creates a lot of boring moments.  When it is allowed, the film does shine when the overall thread of the main “Death in the family” experience and Will Smith’s Howard is allowed to unfold in a genuine matter.  Even so, the film never stays on course and continues down an ambiguous path left to the unwelcomed ‘forced’ acceptance narrative.  As you head into the final act, you are given a slight ‘twist’ that creates a real heartwarming scene.  Eventually, you are brought back down through a predictable uplifting ending that creates something not worth remembering after the fact.

The cinematography is what you expect from a drama styled film.  Keeping to basic visuals of an urban landscape, it allows for the story to take the lead.  The score is mute at best.

Collateral Beauty is a film that had a lot of potential, but gets wasted because of the incoherent storyline.  Even for the great attempt from Will Smith as Howard, there is a lot left to forget.  This might be worth it if you’re a fan of the actor, but it isn’t worth the full price of admission.  At best, I would save this for a rental on Blu-Ray/DVD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *