Saturday, 14 January 2017
#7 COLLATERAL BEAUTY
Starring Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Pena, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kate Winset and Helen Mirren. Written by Allan Loeb and directed David Frankel. Running time 97 minutes. Budget $36 million. Certificate 12a.
Will Smith is Howard Inlet, a fantastically amazing advertising executive of a fantastically amazing and successful Manhattan advertising agency and Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Kate Winset are his dear, dear friends and co-partners. However, three years later and poor old Howard is crippled by the tragic death of his six year old daughter and utterly unable to function in the real world and instead spends his time building elaborate domino runs and writing letters to Death, Love and Time. His trio of good, good buddies terrified that their cash cow is going to leave them penniless when they lose their biggest client thanks to Howard's misery decide that what they need to do is prove Howard is insane with grief and thereby they can take control of the company in a boardroom coup. To do this the trio hire three actors to pretend to be Death, Love and Time to confront Howard, while it's secretly filmed, then, later they'll be cgi-ing out of the footage, so it looks like Howard's talking to himself and thus proving he's mad. In the meantime, Howard struggles to come to terms with his bereavement on his own terms and starts to attend a support group run by the kindly Naomie Harris, who's also lost a daughter at the same age. Hmmm....
This is an odd, odd film. It starts off like a light-hearted comedy and is filmed liked one but as it drags on it becomes more and more morkish and overly sentimental, which is a shame. If this film had just been Will Smith struggling with his loss and coming to terms with it I think it would have been a fantastic film, particularly if the trio of actors, as promised by the trailer, were actually Death, Love and Time then it would have been a far better film.
However, when we discover that each of the three friends have their own problems that could be helped by Death, Love and Time the film begins to lose it's credibility. Added to that there a growing suspicion that this film is desperate to be considered something magical. Then there's the problem that Will takes a back seat to Norton, Knightley and Pena and their problems for large portions of this film and when that happens we sort of lose interest, because they're just three greedy bastards.
This film has one rather moving twist in the third act, which goes someway to redeeming the movie, but by then it's a little bit too little too late. Overall, I don't think it's as bad as the critics claim, but it's still mawkish, over-sentimental and overwrought. All that said, Will Smith's portrayal of grief is poignant and painful to watch and emotional.
The ending offers us the possibility of a happy ending and also one last revelation about our three actors, although by this point I don't think we really care anymore.