Collateral Beauty is a masterfully made drama exuding a special amount of pulchritude to whisk you away from reality. There are multiple points during the film where I heard more sobbing and sniffling (from the audience) than I heard dialogue from the characters. It will especially evoke emotions from anyone who has struggled after losing a loved one.

Set in New York, Howard (Will Smith) a successful advertising executive  suffers a great tragedy and retreats from life. While his concerned friends Whit, Claire, & Simon (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, & Michael Peña) try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Love (Keira Knightley), Time (Jacob Latimore), and Death (Helen Mirren).

Directed by David Frankel and written by Allan Loeb, this dramatic look at love and loss highlights the one side of the holidays that usually gets overlooked; death. As a child, you’re taught that holidays are supposed to be about family, but as you grow older, the bubble pops, real-life shows its ugly head and often times the number of people you consider ‘family’ starts to decrease as you age. Now the vast majority of people love the holiday season, but for anyone who has lost a family member, often times having a family-themed holiday shoved in your face could evoke a myriad of emotions.

Oddly enough, Collateral Beauty takes place during ‘the holiday season’ so it’s safe to assume Christmas. Not only was this film right on time for the holidays, but it was also about time for Will Smith to give us something real and dramatic. I mean thanks for ‘Focus’ and what you tried to give us in ‘Suicide Squad’ but we were long overdue for something ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’-esque.

You’ll enjoy the very strong acting from Will Smith and Michael Peña and many people will be able to relate to their office environment. It reminds me of how most healthcare personnel interact. At a doctor’s office or hospital ward, you’re working with the same tight-knit group for eight to twelve hours at a time. After working so long with people you start to become family. That was the relationship with Howard, Whit, Claire, and Simon at their advertising company.

With everybody fighting their own personal battles (dealing with time, love, and death), Howard turns a complete 180 from his regular jovial self and becomes more like a hollowed box after the death of his daughter.

It has just enough twists to keep you engaged but nothing too extreme to make you feel like you’ve been M. Knight Shamaloned.

I give Collateral Beauty 9 out of 10. Will Smith is amazing, it’s extremely well-written, and at 97 minutes you won’t have to worry about crying your eyes completely dry. Although it can get very emotional, there’s enough dry humor throughout to keep things moving.


-Jon J.

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