I saw Collateral Beauty, a film that is definitely sincere with its objectives. The film is charged with emotions, but it is also manipulating and devious with its narrative. Grief and pain are common colours in the palette of this screenplay. This film serves is cinematic therapy, where art serves as a catalyst to help those in need. This type of cinema allows us to indirectly experience what the characters go through. We can feel their tragedy as well as their triumph when obstacles are overcome and hope is restored. Sadly, while this film had potential to work, it didn't quite reach its goals.
To start with, the concept is very interesting. If you look at a character who faces a tragic loss, especially that of a child, you are reminded to appreciate the people in your life. Each of the characters in this film take this notion very seriously. The problem is that director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) refuses to let Howard's suffering be channelled towards a true catharsis. Instead, Frankel strangles these authentic moments with melodramatic plots and twists which only distract from the central drama. All these subplots provide Frankel and his screenwriter, Allan Loeb, the opportunity for grand discourses and the ability to extract some tears. The final result is a film that is so obsessed in nailing Oscar moments that it ends up diluting everything to the point of absurdity.
Those actors deserve much better. Will Smith has put his soul in this role, but he ended up being betrayed by a couple of surprise twists that left me underwhelmed. Helen Mirren and Michael Pena work so well together that I wished they could be transported to a different, and better, film.
Collateral Beauty is an overbearing, assertive, and aggressive film. While there is an intelligent script, as well as a strong score from Theodore Shapiro, this film simply fails to generate the right emotional response from viewers.