Guest Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)



Directed By: David Frankel
Written By: Allan Loeb
Runtime: 94 minutes

After reviewing a couple unimpressive comedies last week (Office Christmas Party and Why Him?), I was ready for seeing something a little weightier, so I was excited to get the opportunity to see Collateral Beauty. I was a little nervous it would be overly-sentimental, and while I did find some problems with it, I still thought it was very well-done.


In Collateral Beauty, advertising mogul Howard (Will Smith) writes letters to Love (Aimee, played by Keira Knightley), Time (Raffi, played by Jacob Latimore), and Death (Brigitte, played by Helen Mirren) following a family tragedy. At the same time, three of his friends and work colleagues- Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet), and Simon (Michael Peña) – worry that Howard’s mental state may cost them their jobs and devise a desperate plan to prevent it from happening, all while simultaneously fighting their own personal battles. I realize this is a vague synopsis, but saying more would spoil a lot of the plot.

collateralbeauty_cast collateralbeauty_smith_mirren

While I don’t think this movie will go down as a classic, it was a solid film. It was creative and handled the subjects of loss and grief well, without being too heavy-handed. The acting was, of course, phenomenal; how could it not be with such a strong cast? The stand-outs for me were Helen Mirren, who gave a both humorous and poignant performance, and, naturally, Will Smith; he barely has any dialogue in the first half of the movie, but his facial expressions and body language alone is striking, and if he doesn’t make you cry (or get a little choked up, at the very least), you are made of stronger stuff than I am. Naomie Harris as Madeline, the leader of a support group for parents who have lost their children, was excellent as well; she was able to bring both strength to the character as well as an underlying sense of grief without being too obvious.


I did have a couple issues with this movie. One of the twists seemed way too obvious-there were too many pregnant pauses and significant glances hinting toward it- so when it was finally revealed, it felt a little underwhelming. I also thought the plan Howard’s friends come up with to prevent them from losing their jobs was really convoluted; admittedly, it was needed to get the plot moving, but suspension of disbelief can be stretched only so far.

Overall, though, Collateral Beauty was an enjoyable movie, thanks mainly to the fantastic acting. If you’re looking for a light, heartwarming film with some tearjerker moments, check it out.



Have you seen ‘Collateral Beauty’? Well, what did you think? 

14 thoughts on “Guest Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)

  1. Not the kind of movie I’d watch but I do like the cast, I actually read a review last week that contains a bunch of spoilers and I think I’ll pass. Lol. It seems Big Willy Smith’s box office failure continues, Suicide Squad doesn’t count since it would’ve made money even without Smith in it. I used to big a fan of Smith but he’s appeared movies that I have no interest in seeing. Also, him trying to get his son to become a superstar bugged the hell out of me.

    1. Aww, that’s so disappointing that the review you read had spoilers! I thought some of the twists were obvious, but I didn’t want to put them in here in case I ended up spoiling them for people. It’s a bummer not other reviewers felt the same way! It’s so unfortunate that so many of Will’s recent movies have tanked, because he is a genuinely good actor-easily one of my favorites-so I’m hoping he makes more of a comeback soon.

      1. Yeah, that particular critic usually don’t give out spoilers in his reviews but he really hated this movie and probably didn’t care about spoiling the “twist” in the story. I used to go see all of Will Smith’s films back in the days when he’s pulling in big box office numbers, I even saw the crappy The Wild Wild West in the theater! I think I Am Legend was the last film of his that I saw at a movie theater. I think had he accepted the role in QT’s Django Unchained, he may have restored his box office power.

    2. I’m with you about Will Smith pushing his son Jaden to become a superstar, that’s so tacky! I have no desire to see the movie that feature the two of them.

      1. Nepotism are common in Hollywood but many celebrities don’t come out and say it in public. When Smith was on some talk show and said he’s going to connect his son and daughter with the most powerful people in Hollywood and make them super stars, I just thought that’s not right. Heck, Nic Cage changed his last name because he didn’t want people to know that he’s related to Francis Ford Coppola and tried to earn his fame on his own work ethics. I’m sure Coppola probably helped him here and there but they didn’t come out and tell the world that they’re helping each other.

        1. Yes exactly, Ted. I respect many celebs who went out of their way to make it on their own. Ahah, Nic Cage is a good example though I bet the Coppolas probably are relieved not to be associated w/ him given some of his laughable choices. I do like Nic Cage though despite his awful taste in movies, I still think he’s a talented actor.

    1. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I mean, yeah, it’s sentimental, but anyone who’s seen the previews knows to expect that. I know it’s not a perfect movie, but I agree that it doesn’t deserve the bashing it’s been getting.

  2. Hey Laura, I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see the high score for this movie. But when I perused Rotten Tomatoes, it seems the audience and critics differ significantly on this one. Glad to hear it’s not as bad as the critics say, I might give it a rent as I do like the cast, esp. Dame Mirren.

    1. Yeah, I seriously don’t understand the hate for it! I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but some of the reviews are brutal. I’m glad I’m not the only one out there who liked it though, haha. I hope you enjoy it if you check it out!

  3. Outstanding movie!! Excellent casting and equally excellent performances by all!!! Will Smith deserves at the very least an award nomination for his performance as Howard. Yes it is emotional but it is also uplifting in many respects. It does make you think!!!

  4. I love your review and congratulate you for standing against the tide of movie critics who have misread this film. Its hard to find a writer who has anything good to say about this film. But apart from its complicated narrative structure and the surreptitious use of magical realism, this is a great film that held my attention to the very end. As I have said in my review: “If this film was re-imagined with the cast in 17th Century costumes and Howard as the innkeeper of the best establishment in the land, with the three actors, Death, Time, and Love played as ephemerals that materialised and then disappeared, it would be described as a universal tale of Shakespearean proportions.”

  5. I am sure I would be ostracized for saying this, but the real problem with Collateral Beauty – is not with the movie – it your expectations about the movie.

    Most of the reviews are way too harsh.. It’s the trailer that set incorrect expectations.

    However, for anyone, struggling with the three cores of the movie – Love, Time. Death – and that includes all of us, it movie is like a soothing balm. A beauty. Collateral beauty

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