See, I really like Will Smith. And the trailer for Collateral Beauty was amazing. So I caught the movie… and it feels like the best parts were in the trailer.
PLOT: Howard (Will Smith) is a successful CEO of a marketing company. He believes the best way to make a product sell is by advertising the product with regards to it’s interaction with time, death and love. Good premise. Then he loses his daughter. He’s lost all hope. His company is floundering but he refuses to sell it or do anything worthwhile with it. His three good friends decide to sell the company. But because Howard holds the most shares, they can’t sell it without his approval (which he ain’t giving). The friends decide to screw with Howard to make it seem like he’s mental to show that he’s unfit to own the shares. To do this, they send a private investigator out to check up on Howard. The PI finds out Howard has written letters to time, death and love. The three friends, Whitt, Claire, Simon (played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena respectively) decide to hire actors to play the roles of time, death and love. They film interactions Howard has with these actors and edit the actors out to make it seem like Howard is crazy.
Meanwhile, Howard upon such interactions decides to go see a support group for parents who have lost their children. He chats up the leader of the group Madeline (Naomi Harris). They talk and feel for each other but… meh.
Anyway, while Howard interacts with Time, Death and Love, his friends interact with these actors too. Mainly, Whit interacts with Love, symbolic, because he’s trying to win the love of his daughter which he’d lost after he cheated on his wife and got divorced. Claire interacts with Time because she’s running out of time to have children and she’s unsure about sperm donors. Simon speaks with Death, because you know… he’s dying.
At the end, when Howard sees the edited video and gets kicked out of the company he doesn’t suspect his friends behind the treachery (which I understand is not the main point of the film, but they leave this subplot alone?
How can friends live with doing something so shitty to their best friend? What if Howard had checked himself into a mental hospital because you guys convinced him he was crazy??? ). Howard gives up the company saying it’s the right thing to do. Whit kinda gets a second chance with his daughter. Time convinces Claire that it’s never too late, that to be a mother, children don’t have to come from her but just have to go through her. Death, well, convinces Simon to spend his remaining days well?
Oh and the plot twist: Howard’s child… is Madeline’s child as well. Howard had gotten amnesia after the death of his child, so he’d forgotten about Madeline and his daughter’s name.
Here I was expecting more interactions between Howard and the three abstractions, Time, Death and Love. But no. Howard interacts with each of them twice, TWICE. Less than two minutes each time. And the conversation feels very iffy. Like rushed and fake and… unsatisfying. I guess the movie also wants to put an equal emphasis on the abstractions interactions with Whit, Claire and Simon which I find made every character underdeveloped. Let’s face it, Whit’s an ass, he cheated on his daughter’s mother, what does he expect? Why would his daughter even forgive him? Why should his daughter even give him a second chance? Why doesn’t she hate him more? Her anger was not depicted well. It felt more like a kid throwing a tantrum for not being allowed to stay up past her bed time. Like what? And Claire, okay fine I get that she’s looking at sperm donors, so she obviously wants kids, but why? Like what caused this sudden motivation? Has she always wanted a child? Was she always putting it off? Why? I mean she’s still the busy bee that she is, how is she going to take care of a child? Simon… he’s just dying out of nowhere. He starts coughing a lot and the actor playing Death asks him if he’s okay, and he says no.
All of a sudden we’re given a backstory that Simon has battled cancer twice before and now he’s relapsing and this time he’s not so lucky. He doesn’t want to tell anybody cause he just feels bad. He doesn’t want to put his sadness on someone else. Understandable but… I don’t know man..
This whole movie just felt like it was telling me how I should feel instead of allowing me to experience the movie for myself.
It was upsetting.
And don’t get me started on the plot twist of Howard having amnesia and forgetting Madeline was his wife. I didn’t feel anything for that.
And what I cannot stand was the following scene which was a flashback sequence. So Madeline and Howard’s daughter was dying right? So Madeline was sitting outside the ward crying. She met an old lady who asks her who was dying. So Madeline says her kid. The old woman says, ‘Just remember to notice the collateral beauty.’
I’m sorry what? What am I supposed to notice? Was that supposed to be a punchline? What did I miss? My pea sized brain does not understand.
Anyway, this old lady is the actor that will subsequently be paid by Whit to play Death which gets me to my final pet peeve. At the end, the movie makes it seem like the three actors who were hired to play Time, Love and Death are actually Time, Love and Death.
That’s not even a nice plot twist, especially when it felt like the three abstractions did a poor job at helping Howard.
Hais. But maybe this is how the movie addresses the subplot of Whit, Claire and Simon doing something treacherous to their best friend but not feeling much remorse for it. But it’s still insufficient, the audience knows that the paid actors are really Love, Time and Death. Whit, Claire and Simon don’t know that, so they’re still asses.
LIKES: There was one scene that made me tear. Howard’s second interaction with Love.
I don’t want to rank this movie.