Movie Review — Collateral Beauty

Took my lover to the movies Friday evening…”Collateral Beauty” was on the agenda.

Minor possible spoilers ahead…

We were hesitant to spend an evening out on this one…movies have gotten expensive and Will Smith has gotten…well…let’s just say a lot of his recent projects have been less than satisfying.

But with this one…an interesting concept and an all-star cast got us out to see it despite our concerns. Heck, we’ll see pretty much anything with Helen Mirren in it…especially after her appearances as Victoria…the retired MI6 agent and current freelancer in the “RED” franchise.

Anyway…the premise…Love, Time, and Death as actual physical incarnations answer…in person…letters to them from “Howard” (Will Smith) who has lost a child.

We enjoyed it despite the tough subject matter (losing a child) that predicates the story in the movie…but doubt we’d see it again or add it to the library.

I was pleased that the incarnations apparently turn out to be the real thing despite initially appearing as actors hired by Howard’s friends in a somewhat…mean…plot to get him to authorize the sale of his failing company.

My problem with the entire premise…was not the incarnations…it was the characterization of the grieving father played by Will Smith. “Howard” is grieving and pretty much completely non-functional *three years* after losing a child.

It has destroyed his marriage (not uncommon), but also the company he built and pretty much all his friends. They seem to accept this…right up until the events in the movie.

This was treated by the movie makers as completely normal and a natural consequence/reaction to the premise.


We are not that fragile. We’ve *never* been that fragile. We *cannot* be that fragile. The movie makes a point that a loss like this will never “go away” and “be okay” and that’s certainly true…but a multi-year complete breakdown is not even close to normal and not what we *are*…or what we *should* be…and certainly not something we have the luxury to *can* be…even in a touchy-feely “we are oversensitive to everything and must go to our safe space” world that our leaders (and Hollywood) seem to think we should inhabit.

This character was portrayed as far beyond broken and suicidal, and in the real world would have not survived this long…or would have been committed at least once (both of which would have solved the problems the friends were conspiring to fix)…yet the movie treated his condition as rather unremarkable expected behavior and a normal consequence of the events in the predicate.

If this had been a month after the fact I might have bought his condition…but then the actions of his friends would have made no sense…but three years…nope. Doesn’t work for me.

And yes…grief hits lots of folks somewhat differently…but few (if any) like this…and the movie makers failed to create a character we could care about…or believe.

So…maybe catch it on netflix or a free viewing on Amazon prime…or perhaps the $3 dvd bin at Walmegasupermart…the incarnations and some of the subtle humor there are worth that at least.

The characterization of “Time” as a young, pushy thug is certainly right on and Smith’s delivery of a couple lines are fun…notably, “It turns out death…is an elderly white woman…”

Speaking of death…Helen Mirren is fun as that incarnation…Mirren…playing death…who’s playing a washed out, vain actor…playing death.

And before the comments go sideways…regarding the predicate and how it effects folks…in this regard my lover and I do know of what we speak.

So…till next time…I’ll see you on the road (or at the movies).

(also: This has become obligatory on my movie reviews (click) )

Daniel Meyer

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