Collateral Beauty :: Terrible Film About Horrible People…

Cineville - Collateral Beauty

In Collateral Beauty, Will Smith is one of the founders of a New York advertising agency. In the first scene, he is delivering a really cheesy, would-be inspirational presentation to the staff of the agency in which he talks about the three abstractions (apparently, Love, Time and Death) and he comes across as someone who really believes that advertising is a force for good and not a pernicious tool of an odious, toxic economic system that will most probably destroy all of humankind. I thought, Ah, so it's going to be a film in which Will Smith goes on a journey and realises that advertising is a pernicious tool of an odious, toxic economic system that will most probably destroy all of humankind. Hmmm. Interesting.

Then suddenly it's a year later, Will Smith's daughter is dead and he's catatonic, spending all of his time building elaborate domino walls in the office.

Cineville - Collateral Beauty


His friends can't get through to him. They've apparently tried everything but he won't even talk to them. For a whole year. So they decide, as any best friends would, to hire a private detective to prove that he's mentally ill so that they can get him out of the company because he's becoming a liability, being all depressed all the time. I can't remember the ins and outs and the attempts at justification but I remember feeling very puzzled that they would do something like that. Puzzled, angry and embarrassed for everyone involved.

On a few occasions in the first half of the film, I thought to myself, Hold on. Is this a comedy? Not because it was funny but because it had that kind of cavalier attitude towards morality, and indeed reality, that people often mistakenly believe is fair game in comedy. But no, despite a thoroughly farcical plot, I don't think this film is a comedy.

As well as the farcical plot and the unbelievable characters, there was also some pretty ropey acting, which may ultimately have been the fault of some very bad writing. Actually it was all the fault of some very bad writing. Allan Loeb. I blame Allan Loeb. (And everybody else.)

Cineville - Collateral Beauty


One more thing. The film has a double twist. The first twist is obvious, although I'll admit, I didn't see it till right at the last minute. But I recognise that it was certainly signposted clearly enough. I was just being an idiot.

The second twist, however, is a fucking disgrace that renders the whole film even more stupid than it had, until that moment, appeared. Which was very, very stupid indeed.

So yes. This film is stupid. And pretentious. And full of holes. And incredibly cheesy. And the title makes no sense. 

But guess what.

I cried twice.

I am an absolute disgrace, and I apologise. 


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Cineville - Collateral Beauty


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The Viewing

So this was my first film back after seven days in England. It was supposed to be five days in England but I missed my original plane by a full 24 hours. I wrote the the date down wrong in my brain. Not to worry.

I missed the cinema too though, when I was away, and as soon as I was back, I had to go. And I knew nothing about Collateral Beauty, but Helen Mirren was in it, and Ed Norton was in it. So it couldn't be very bad.

Ha ha.

On my way out to England, I met a woman at the airport who claimed to be a film buff but had only seen one Woody Allen film. So I had my doubts. When I told her that I'd seen around 30 films in the past six or seven weeks, she immediately exclaimed (and I do not use the word 'exclaimed' lightly), 'You must be really lonely!' followed by a tiny pause and then, 'Or else you go on a lot of dates.'

For a split second, I flirted with pretending, then responded, 'Well, it's nearer the first one, but you don't have to be lonely to go to the cinema on your own.' But I can't remember her response. I think we'd started drinking by then.

Our plane was delayed by about two and half hours because of the fog, so we had a few drinks in the airport pub. It was Christmas after all. And we were young and carefree. Well, she was young, and I was carefree.

When the plane was finally ready, they called our names over the airport tannoy but we didn't hear them. I'd never had my name called out in an airport before - to my knowledge - and I never even got to hear it.

Luckily, we boarded in time anyway and the staff were all in fine spirits as they ushered us onto a half-empty plane, where we were jovial Christmas drunks who made friends with everyone and had maybe just a tiny bit too much fun. Before we went our separate ways in Nottingham, she said, wistfully, 'Oh I wish the flight could have taken longer.'

She was really quite drunk by then. And she'd been up most of the night and probably didn't know her own mind. But I kind of agreed.

Our meeting was a little like a movie in itself and it was only much later that I started thinking, Shit, maybe I am lonely.

I vowed to get to the bottom of it.

In the new year.

About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you'll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven't already.

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