I wanted to see a film and only had spare time in the afternoon. There were two options, Passengers or Collateral Beauty. As my friend had already seen the first, we chose the latter. I had read reviews about the film on Rotten Tomatoes, as I usually do, but I never let it influence my opinion of a film. Usually when a film gets mostly unfavourable reviews I would like to see for myself if I agree with it, unless the film sounds absolutely rubbish to me. The idea of Collateral Beauty did sound appealing to me. A man loses his child and writes letters to Love, Death and Time and then meets them in person. You can do many things with that as it is essentially a good idea.
But was the film really as bad as the critics made it seem? Some even claimed the film should never have been made.
My personal opinion is that no, the film is not as bad as the critics say it is. However, that doesn’t mean that it is a good film either. It is stuck somewhere in between which is a shame because it could have been so much better if the makers hadn’t been overly ambitious.
Cinematically, Collateral Beauty is a beautiful film. It is well-made and at times even poetic especially when you take into consideration that this is a commercial film. Despite it being a story-driven film, it was well-paced and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the scenes. That is not the problem.
Collateral Beauty actors
The actors were also perfect. They managed to gather a long list of A-list actors and actresses such as Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Keira Knightley. They all act beautifully and it’s great to see so much talent into a single film. I was especially impressed with Will Smith’s performance, which is raw and emotional. So that is not the problem either.
But then what is? The problem I had with this film is that it wants to be something that it is not. It feels like every five minutes it tries to throw in some deep profound quote that makes no sense or does nothing to advance the plot. A film like this should hit you in the heart and not in the head. I don’t want to have to spend time thinking about the meaning behind what they are saying and how this affects the plot.
When it comes to a film about emotion like this, I want to feel that emotion. That emotion has to be subtle and has to be sudden. Now it was neither. Also the use of the title, Collateral Beauty, is just pushed in somewhere to double the profound effect but it fails. Add to this that they added in two sudden plot twists at the end for extra dramatic effect and the whole cycle is complete.
Collateral Beauty is not a bad film but it could have been so much more than it is. That’s a shame and a waste of the idea and the excellent cast. It’s out now.