Collateral Beauty tells a story about grieving with Will Smith and an all-star cast behind him in supporting roles. It’s a heart-warming, tear-jerker of a tale about recovering from the loss of a child.
I hadn’t heard of this 2016 film when I spotted it on Netflix. I suspect it was because it was panned by the major critics. But I found Collateral Beauty touching and surprising. It takes a unique approach to healing from loss.
Howard (Will Smith) lost his daughter a couple of years ago. Since then he’s been out of it. He builds elaborate domino systems and knocks them down. He interacts with no one. He shirks his duties at work and sits in silence in his apartment at night.
Howard’s partners, Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña) are worried about the effect his detachment is having on the business. They are in danger of going broke. But they have an offer of a buy out at a good price. They try all sorts of ways to get Howard, who owns the majority of the stock, to agree to the sale. He barely registers their presence.
They hire a private detective (Ann Dowd) to figure out what he’s doing with his time. She discovers that he’s written a letter to Love, Time, and Death. These are the three principles of his business plan.
Whit gets the brainstorm to hire actors to play Love, Time, and Death and have them snap Howard out of his mental state. The actors are Brigitte (Helen Mirren), Amy (Keira Knightley), and Raffi (Jacob Latimore). The exchanges between Howard and these three are interesting.
These actors have a good effect on Howard and everyone around him. Somehow they manage to spread the gift of emotional intelligence among the people they meet. Maybe that’s what actors always deal in.
Howard eventually starts to attend a grief support group with other parents who lost a child. He doesn’t talk much during the meetings but he opens up just a little to the group leader (Naomie Harris) after the meetings.
I won’t tell you what the title means or what happens in the final act of the film. Don’t want to spoil the ending.
David Frankel directed this emotional story about love and loss.
Here’s the trailer.