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Film Review: 'Collateral Beauty' Forces One to see Beauty in Devastation

by Bridgett S. Joe


(Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures) 


Seeing the Beauty in Everything



Collateral damage is defined as a general term for deaths, injuries or other damage inflicted on an unintended target. 

The film “Collateral Beauty” inspires viewers to look at the loss of a loved one from the perspective of seeing the collateral beauty in their death and not the collateral damage of emotions when it comes to losing a loved one such as grief, pain, emptiness and depression.  

In the beginning of “Collateral Beauty,” viewers will be drawn into the passionate, charismatic, and energetic character Howard (Will Smith), a Manhattan, N.Y. advertising genius who insists the three obsessions in everyone's life are love, time and death. (This is a set-up for what’s to come during the film). 

He gives a rousing speech to his colleagues and staff about how they are going to change the world using these three obsessions through advertising. 

Right after this scene, the film jumps three years later to Howard living a very sad existence. 

No longer energetic, the passion is gone from his eyes with the million-dollar smile replaced with gray hair and grief.

The movie takes a minute before letting the viewer in on why the dramatic change, opting to show the character stuck and unable to move past whatever has happened. 

The next scene follows Howard’s mundane life. 

He barely sleeps, lives in an empty apartment, stares at a wall all night, has no phone, no television, no Internet service, no bed, and barely eats. 

He rides his bike every day to the office, builds a domino empire, which he works on for days only to knock them down and start all over. 

He leaves his office, goes to a dog park (he doesn’t own a dog) and retreats into his cubbyhole day in and day out.

It is not until his three shareholders Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet), and Simon (Michael Peña) reveal the reason as to why Howard has gone into a deep depression, (stating, “It’s been three years since he lost his daughter! How long does it take to get over that?”), that moviegoers get insight into his pain.

At this moment, the viewer has a pivotal decision to make, to side with the three colleagues or Howard.

As the movie moves forward, Whit, Claire, and Simon devise a plan to help Howard get over the loss of his daughter and to also make him look incompetent in the eyes of fellow board members so they can wrestle the company away from him during his time of struggle. 

After discovering Smith’s character has written letters to death, time and love through a private investigator, they enlist three actors Brigitte (Helen Mirren) who portrays Death, Amy (Keira Knightly) who portrays Love and Raffi (Jacob Latimore) who portrays Time to pull off their plot.  

Although Whit, Claire and Simon come off as cruel and insensitive, a human and softer side is shown as each of them have their own issues with death, time and love. 

Mirren’s character as Death provides some comic relief throughout the morbid film offering some lighter moments allowing the viewer to breath. 

After watching “Collateral Beauty,” viewers may feel a certain likeness to two holiday classics, “A Christmas Carol,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

Smith’s character realizes that everything is not collateral damage when it comes to the loss of a loved one. 

But when you pay attention you can see the collateral beauty also!


“Collateral Beauty” will keep moviegoers’ attention and viewers will be able to relate to it.  But most importantly, pay close attention to the end of the movie for a few twists.






This article was published on Friday 16 December, 2016.
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