Collateral Beauty

Film, Drama
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • 2 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
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Collateral Beauty

A sentimental and manipulative New York fairytale starring Will Smith and Helen Mirren

The title of this cloying, grown-up fairytale set in New York sounds like it's been taken from a random generator for naming perfumes. "'Collateral Beauty', you say? But I still have half a bottle left of 'Incidental Harmony'."

A whimsical contemporary drama with a streak of over-polite tragedy, the film has something of Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' about it. Will Smith plays grieving businessman and once brilliant ad man Howard, who is visited by three spirit types: Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Jacob Latimore playing smalltime theatre actors hired by his colleagues to pretend to be Death, Love and Time for Howard's benefit. Can they collectively nudge him to a new level of self-knowledge?

At the very least, these spirits might help Howard's business partners – played by Kate Winslet, Michael Peña and Edward Norton – to prove once and for all that their unhappy friend is unfit to run a company. They want to sell up, cash in and sort out their own personal issues (a desire for a child; illness; trying to be a good father). Understandably, Smith is more concerned with the young daughter he and his ex wife recently lost to illness than selling shares. Although, strangely, the movie seems to pitch both at the same level of importance. The only sign of life in Howard comes from a burgeoning friendship with a fellow bereaved parent played by the ever-reliable Naomie Harris.

Reaching out for heartwarming and teary alternative Christmas movie status, director David Frankel ('The Devil Wears Prada', 'Marley and Me') has assembled a game and sparky big-name cast, and he makes the most of a stream of attractive wintry Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. But it's just impossible to get past the core ridiculousness and arm-twisting manipulation of the story.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Monday December 26 2016
Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Frankel
Screenwriter: Allan Loeb
Cast: Kate Winslet
Will Smith
Keira Knightley
Helen Mirren
Edward Norton

Average User Rating

2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 of 1 found helpful

The best I can say is it was better than I expected and no where near as bad as it could have been.

We went as a family and this one as a choice over Passengers. The cast is great and obviously part of the draw. As my 13 year old daughter said the story is pretty predictable. 

I can't say to much as there are a couple of 'twists'. This film I suspect is meant to be charming and emotionally engaging - and it just doesn't get there really. 

I really don't think its worth the money to see at the cinema - but on dvd as an easyish watch it would be ok!


The trailers for this film looked really good. But they were a little misleading, a bit like the plot of the actual film. When I watched the trailer I was under the impression that the manifestations of ‘death’, ‘time’ and ‘love’ were real but from the start of the film we are told they are just actors paid by a part-owner of a marketing company to try and document the insanity of his partner in order to buy him out. Whilst this removes some of the profoundness of the concept of the film it doesn’t mean it’s a completely bad film. You can never go wrong with Will Smith who plays the part of the angry, grieving father really well. It’s a bit of an all star cast and the film really is moving. I was just slightly disappointed that it didn’t have the depth to it that the concept deserves.


I appear to be in the minority of actually didn’t wholly dislike this film! Though agreeably, I too was not on board with the backstory of actor characters within the film pretending to be Love, Time and Death to be honest – this premise seemed mean spirited and just cruel, I couldn’t understand or justify it. It was unnecessary and didn’t sit well with me, I wish they’d just gone along with the human portrayal to represent these higher powers that be – this I feel would have worked better to consistently engage on an emotional level, instead of being conflicted.

My favourite scenes were those of just Will Smith and Naomi Harris, and their refreshing approach to the delicate subjects of the unthinkable loss of a child – we are exposed to the concept that grief effects everyone different and through their acting we share in the pains that they feel, so for me it definitely ticked the box as a tearjerker.

For the most part, despite the plot downfalls, the script was well written, with some beautifully crafted ideologies which make for sentimental quotes. What resonated with me more than the film itself was the emoton it stirred up and ultimately the thoughts/feeling it provoked. It done for me what I think it set out to do by bringing to the forefront the fundamental matters of life – the importance and fragile nature of love, time and death and the possibility of “collateral beauty”.


With such an all star cast, Helen Mirren, Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslett, Kiera Knightly and Naomi Harris this could have been epic to Love Actually proportions. But it was sad, confusing ad poorly executed to boot.

Perhaps if this was actually about spirits rather than paid actors manipulating someone to bend to the will of others this would actually be a heartwarming tale rather than whatever this is.

I do however, like the concept of collateral beauty, the accidental good that comes from something awful but that was pretty much the only good thing I can take from these 97 minutes of life I will never get back.

Remember when everybody said that "Gods of Egypt" and "Independence Day: Resurgence" are the worst movies of 2016. Well, along comes this turd.

When I saw the trailer for "Collateral Beauty", I thought it's going to be a modern day "A Christmas Carol". I mean, it looked like it could be an emotional movie, despite looking Oscar bait. It's not until I saw the movie and the actual plot.

Here the real plot: A successful New York advertising (Will Smith) executive suffers a great tragedy, he retreats from life. He goes to work and builds elaborate Domino sets then watches them collapse while he refuses to communicate with other people. His co-workers react to this by hiring actors to pretend to be Death, Love and Time so they can film him talking to them then editing them out the video so it looks like he's mentally unstable to be a shareholder.

Yes, that's the actual plot to the movie and it's awful. No wonder the trailer false advert this, because who would want to see this.

How the hell did this get made? And why are there so many big name actors involved? I think this and "Nine Lives" are the biggest WTF movies of 2016. I just can't get my head around this. These Oscar winners & nominees agreed to be in this?

"Collateral Beauty" isn't just the worse movie of 2016, but of the 21st century. What a cruel, heartless, boring, Oscar bait trash of a film. It's the worse kind of Oscar bait, as it ticks all the boxes for the purpose of earning nominations for Academy Award.

What's worse is that title of the movie "Collateral Beauty" is literally said six times in the movie, but yet, I have no idea what it's suppose to mean. And frankly, I don't give a damn.

This is once again another Will Smith Oscar bait movie. There was "Seven Pounds", "Concussion", and now "Collateral Beauty". If I have to pick this or "Suicide Squad", for his worse movie yet, this easily takes the cake. Smith himself isn't really the leading man, but neither supporting.

At least the rest of the actors are actually trying, as the performance in this are not bad. But that's the only "good" thing I can say about this.

Overall rating: This movie can go fuck itself.

I couldn't get into a preview of La La Land and settled for this rather than go home. People, if you are in the same, stricken situation as I (as first-world a tragedy as the ones the toe-curlingly awful middle-class types in this movie are going through), miss this and go home. Still, it looks good and the cast is to be enjoyed, even when they are off form. For more from me: