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David Frankel’s Collateral Beauty. Short Review

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Collateral Beauty falls under the genre of Drama and Romance perfectly, due to its ability to intertwine with deep meanings that reveal the definition of true beauty. This film was directed by David Frankel and written by Allan Loeb. The 97-minute film brought in 75.6 million dollars into the box office, while only having a budget of 36 million. Will Smith, the star of hit movies, The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds plays the lead. Other well-known actors are included as sub-leads that include Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Naoime Harris, and Kate Winslet. The movie was released by Warner Bros. in the United States on December 16, this past month. It was the 2016 film that had us crawling into the movie theatre, anxiously waiting its release. Collateral Beauty is a brilliant embodiment of the genre Drama and Romance, which is especially notable for its superb plot that that is filled with emotion and surprises at each scene, along with its theme that brings viewers to tears and filled with inspiration, and lastly because of its clever decision-making in choosing which actors are shown through the film.

In the beginning, a successful business man working as an advertising executive, Howard is flourishing in his company. His life suddenly takes a dramatic turn when his daughter tragically dies. He turns into a depressed, border-line suicidal mess. He disappears from work and his company is going downhill. His three friends/co-workers are worried for his health and themselves because they will be out of a job sooner than later. Howard (Will Smith) is not allowing them to sell the company. Whit, Claire, and Simon decide to hire a private investigator to prove that he is not fit to maintain the company. The PI discovers that he is writing letters to abstract ideas of Love, Time, and Death. All the co-workers are informed and come up with an idea. They hire these three actors and plan to hire each as these abstract concepts and present them to Howard, all while he is being recorded. Eventually, they will delete the actors and it will look as if Howard is going insane. The goal is to prove to the head of the company that he is not suitable to be in control, in hope that he will agree to sign the company away. Howard attends a grief group and meets a woman by the name of Madeleine, who also lost her daughter. The three actors Brigitte, Raffi, and Amy all approach Howard claiming they are Death, Time, and Love. The first time it was unbelievable to him, as the second time comes around, he becomes angry and lashes out at them. He eventually meets with Madeleine and she mentions that an elderly woman came up to her the day her daughter was dying in the hospital and said the words “collateral beauty” which are the acts of selfless kindness that result from tragedies. Following that day, he finally meets with the board, where the video is presented with the “deleted” actors. He agrees that he is unfit, but proclaims the love he has for his friends. Howard goes to see Madeleine at her house, where he is welcomed in. She pushes him to watch a certain video clip where her husband is playing with his daughter. In the end, Madeleine is the mother of Howard’s daughter Olivia. He had trouble throughout the whole movie saying her name and mentioning her condition, but he eventually comes to term with his grief and speaks about it. Later, while Howard and Madeleine are walking through the park together, Howard is the only one who notices Amy, Raffi and Brigitte watching them from above. Realizing that Brigitte was the woman who told Madeleine in the hospital about collateral beauty.

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Collateral Beauty stands out through all movies because of its superb plot and the surprises and emotion that are at each scene. The beginning scene begins with Howard speaking to his company about their successes. At the end of his talk, he explains, “We’re here to connect. Love, time, death. Now these three things connect every single human being on earth. We long for love, we wish we had more time and we fear death.” Following, it turns to a vignette of Howard toppling these dominoes that creates an effect all throughout his office. It is his way of coping with his depression, creating a sad image to look at. The plot went from a bright, happy man to an unhappy, miserable disaster. The surprise that is built brings forth an emotion that can only be formed through this type of plot. However, upon interviewing a certain individual by the name of Alex Mata, he felt the complete opposite. He mentioned, “Collateral Beauty contained the most confusing plot. It was outrageous, so outrageous that the film should have not worked properly.” He did not quite understand how the parents of the deceased daughter acted in such a way that they were strangers, without giving away the fact that they knew each other very well, too well. He described, “The story line was so far-fetched because of how the actors that were paid pulled this stunt and got away with it.” Alex begins to mention his strong dislike for this movie because he could not relate in anyway because it was not “applicable to a real-life situation.” Nevertheless, the plot is so complex that it all comes together in the end of the movie in such a way that will leave the audiences mind blown.

In the film, the theme that surrounds the story line brings viewers to tears and left with inspiration. The most crucial moment at end of the movie is when Howard enters the house of his dear friend, Madeline on Christmas Eve. He walks around looking at images of her daughter and artwork she did that is hung up all around throughout. As mentioned above in the summary, she asks him if she could show this video of her husband with his daughter dancing. The short video of the daughter and the father is filled with out pouring joy. He had trouble coming out saying his daughters name until now. Madeline asks, “What was your daughter’s name, Howard?” He refuses, but then finally after seeing the clip and hearing her laugh, he says “Olivia, her name was Olivia”, crying effusively, “She had a rare form of cancer called Glioblastoma multi form, GBM for short, she was only six years old.” He finally came to terms with the dramatic event that had occurred in his life, which brought tons of viewers to tears. As for the theme that surrounds the plot is mentioned when an older lady comes to Madeline, the mother of Olivia and says “Just be sure to notice the collateral beauty.” The idea of this that no matter how dark or difficult a time is, there is something beautiful that is happening right there. One just must look and see it. In the most simplistic way, there is something beautiful to be seen in humanity. It is left in the theme that everyone has an angel if a moment is taken to think about it and that everyone can stop and take a second to listen to someone else to learn. Collateral Beauty is about putting one foot in front of another feeling the sunshine again.

Last of all, each actor that play the main roles throughout the movie cannot be dismissed and should be recognized for their greatness. The main character is Will Smith who is known for his exemplary acting, producing, rapping and song-writing. He stars in the biggest movies Bad Boys, Men in Black, Concussion, I Am Legend, Hitch, the list goes on. He has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards. He is starring in a new upcoming film that will debut this year, Bright. He may be forty-eight years old, but he is on the top of his game as one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood. Questioning a young girl by the name of Breanna Chavez, she enlightened her love for Will Smith and his gift of acting. She mentioned, “I am always ready for a tear-jerker so any type of drama is what I shoot for in finding the right movie to watch.” Breanna also pushed the importance of a good theme, “I love a movie that connects with all the viewers, especially myself because each situation can be happening to someone in their life right now”, she said. Along with other supporting actors there are Edward Norton, a co-worker who starred in Sausage Party, and the television shows The Simpsons and Modern Family. Following with, Kate Winslet, another co-worker who played in Titanic and Divergent; in addition, Keira Knightley, the abstract concept of Love, who played a role in Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Lastly, Michael Pena, the third co-worker was in the emotional film End of Watch, along with, Helen Mirren, the abstract concept of Death who was in Monsters University and will be in the upcoming hit movie, The Fate of the Furious. The characters depict the movie’s credibility and excellence in the story line.

Comparing to another movie in the genre of drama, Southpaw and Collateral Beauty share very similar aspects, but do have a few small differences. In both films, they lose their daughter, only thing is one is permanent while the other is temporary. They feel the same pain and experience the difficulties of losing the love of their life. Both main characters push away their wives due to grief and decisions made through anger. The differences include that one reason he loses his daughter is due to sickness, so that is inevitable. The other way is due to his life choices he made because he is unfit to be a father. They both experience being unfit for something. Howard is unfit to run his company. For a while, Billy Hope being a father, a boxer, and husband all take a toll on him and he begins to experience loss due to him not being able to handle it all. They are both dramatic dramas that have death involved. One is an illness, as the other is a murder. They each share a theme that there is hope for the future, no matter the ugliness that has happened.

Despite what others think, in the end, Collateral Beauty is a film that cannot be passed by. It is filled with emotions ranging from excitement to sadness, characters that represent their role excellently, along with an impression that will leave viewers speechless. Even though, there are critics who find the story unrealistic, or life-like, this movie shined through the theaters with a narrative that cannot be duplicated. Collateral Beauty fits the genre of drama flawlessly and is the paramount movie of 2016.


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