After watching Collateral Beauty, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was originally supposed to be a completely different movie. How else could such a contrived, melodramatic, weepy about love, loss, and grief have attracted a cast that includes Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Edward Norton? The ham-handed script by Allan Loeb is dripping with so much schmaltz, it’s hard to take seriously.
Will Smith stars as Howard Inlet, a successful New York City advertising executive. When we first meet him, Howard is confident and driven; happy to give an inspiration speech to a roomful of employees. Three years later, having lost his six-year old daughter to cancer, Howard is lost. He rides his bicycle into oncoming traffic, and if he does come into the office, it’s to work on one of his elaborate domino structures. He wanders through each day, numbed by pain.
With Howard MIA, his three friends and business partners, Whit (Norton), Claire (Winslet), and Simon (Michael Peña) are watching their agency wither. Clients who depend on Howard’s expertise are threatening to take their business elsewhere. A lucrative buyout offer from a rival agency is threatened because Howard won’t even look at the paperwork. Now, these people are supposedly Howard’s friends, but nonetheless come up with a plan to have him declared mentally incapacitated. They have him tailed by a private investigator (Ann Dowd), who discovers (via mail fraud), that Howard is writing letters to Love, Time, and Death and dropping them in the mailbox. Then they hire actors to play the three roles, accosting Howard in a public place, and hoping to provoke a response that will prove he’s lost his mind. These aren’t real nice friends, but it’s business, right?
Death (Helen Mirren) ambushes Howard on a park bench. Time (Jacob Latimore) visits him at his office, and Love (Keira Knightley) interrupts him during a meal. After all of this and more, the private investigator starts following Howard again, hoping to videotape moments when he loses his temper. Who wouldn’t get snippy if three strange people kept showing up and lecturing them? In the midst of all this, Howard works up the courage to visit a support group led by the kindly Madeleine (Naomie Harris) in an effort to accept his daughter’s death.
In case you were wondering, the film’s title comes from the idea that out of great tragedy can come great beauty. It’s a nice thought, I suppose, but Collateral Beauty manages to come across as preachy and judgmental. In truth, Howard’s colleagues are gaslighting him, and there’s nothing about that to be admired.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer looks wonderful in every respect. The image is sharp, with solid definition throughout. Colors look appropriate, within the design parameters of the film. Blacks are dark, and inky. The image is free of any flaws or obvious print damage.
While not particularly special, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack serves the material well. Ambience and music is a focal point, though the soundfield opens up a bit more during a few scenes on city streets. Music cones through nicely, with appropriate levels of bass. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise.
English, French, Latin, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- A Modern Fable: Discovering Collateral Beauty (HD, 15:03) Screenwriter Allan Loeb, producer Anthony Bregman, director David Frankel, and actors Will Smith, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Michael Peña and Jacob Latimore offer their thoughts on the projects origins, the story, script, performances, and more.
Movie title: Collateral Beauty (2016)
Director(s): David Frankel
Actor(s): Will Smith, Keira Knightley , Kate Winslet , Edward Norton , Helen Mirren , Naomie Harris