Angels. Do you believe in them? Collateral Beauty is the story of how just the right people enter your life exactly when you need them the most.
Will Smith plays Howard, a father grieving the loss of his daughter, who died three years ago. The smart, charismatic ad executive goes into a state of depression. His friends Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña), who are also his business partners, are worried about him — and the company.
They hire a private investigator to find out if he’s mentally competent to run the company, as he is the biggest shareholder. They find out that Howard has written and mailed letters to the three abstract elements, towards which he feels the most resentment: Love, Time and Death.
Whit runs into an actress named Amy (Keira Knightley) at a casting call at his company. She comes up with a brilliant idea for a slogan, but then leaves, so he follows her to an old theater, where he finds two other actors: Brigitte (Helen Mirren) and Raffi (Jacob Latimore).
Whit comes up with an idea to have the actors portray Love, Time and Death and gets Claire and Simon on board. The three actors approach Howard in their roles and try to help him get through his grief and move on with his life.
The film is told through the lens of grief and loss, and depicts how the three strangers help Howard and his friends move through life’s obstacles. Helen Mirren gives a brilliant performance — it’s important to pay close attention, because she drops subtle hints of a big twist that’s about to come. Even as she does that, she plays her role with incredible flamboyance — a testament to her acting skills.
Will Smith gives a fine performance as a father who’s drowning in grief. Keira Knightley, in the role of Love, could have made a stronger impact — both her performance and the way her character was written left me feeling somewhat confused as to what her goal was while trying to help Howard.
Overall, the film is brilliantly peppered with hints of a bigger plot line. If you watch carefully, you just might figure it out. If you don’t, well, you have to watch it again to piece it all together. Nevertheless, the little nuggets of wisdom dished out by the actors are food for thought.
Special Blu-ray features include A MODERN FABLE: Discovering Collateral Beauty, which is a behind-the-scenes featurette with the cast, the screenwriter and the producer.
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