Review of movie Collateral Beauty (2016)

In 1986, I buried my father without shedding a tear for him.  He seemed a nice man, but he was always distant, like he didn’t belong in this family with six kids.  But, one day, a year later, I was walking across the President Street open-air parking lot at the Harbor.   A man walked past me smoking a pipe, and right away, I was in full cry mode for my father who smoked a pipe and cigars.  I cried for a full block.

This type of thing is sort of what Collateral Beauty is about.   The phrase “Remember the Collateral Beauty” is a line spoken in the movie a few times.

Howard, a working, inspiring, idea-filled, and happy man (played by Will Smith) co-partnered with Whit (played by Edward Norton) at a non-Madison Avenue ad agency.  The major officers of the company were Claire (played by Kate Winslet) and Simon (played by Michael Peña).   Howard is 60/40 with Whit in the partnership.

But, as soon as his six-year-old daughter dies, he loses every interest he ever had in life except riding his bike and building things with dominoes all day at work instead of working.   The partnership, his wife, talking, and, even eating no longer mattered to him.

Howard’s colleague-friends devise an ingenious plan to try to reach him and bring their dying company back to life.   They hire a detective and three actors to confront him about love, time, and death—his three stratagems that move people to buy products.

The acting was top shelf by everyone.  However, three characters stood out to me.   Time/Raffi was played by young actor, Jacob Lattimore (The Maze Runner).  He was refreshing and strong.   The investigator, Sally, was played by Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) whom I’ve seen in a number of roles.  Although she was behind the scenes in practically every scene, she was great in what her character was allowed to say.   Simon was played by Michael Peña (Antman I & 2, Battle: Los Angeles, A Wrinkle in Time, Gone in 60 Seconds, My Fellow Americans).   It was wonderful to see him in another dramatic role.

This movie, Collateral Beauty, was perfect for Will Smith (7 Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness, I am Legend, Suicide Squad, Hitch, Men in Black, etc.), Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect, Red 1 & 2, Winchester, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, Calendar Girls, The Leisure Seeker, Hitchcock), Edward Norton (The Illusionist, Red Dragon, The Grand Budapest Hotel, American History X, The Painted Veil), Keira Knightley (Love Actually, Colette, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, several Pirates of the Caribbean movies), Kate Winslet (Titanic, Love Actually, Divergent, The Holiday, Sense and Sensibility), and Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, a few Pirates of the Caribbean movies).*   

There were unexpected twists and turns, especially at the end.   Also, there were many sad parts, but the movie was heart-warming, not depressing.    I wish I had seen this movie on the big screen but thank God for the library’s DVD service.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

*Movies mentioned are movies I have actually seen