I imagine, that somewhere out in the infinite cosmos there is a version of Collateral Beauty that is actually pretty well thought of.
It stars a cast that most directors would kill for- Will Smith making his biennial attempt for an Oscar, alongside Dame Helen Mirren, Kiera Kightly, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris and Kate Winslet amongst others who all fancy the idea of a movie that will be on every Christmas from now until the end of the universe.
It’s plot – about a man broken by the death of his 6 year old daughter writes angry letters to Death, Love and Time only for them to turn up and try to help him heal a la Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol might not be terribly original but it would make its target audience cry and if not quite garner the Oscar buzz that Smith so clearly wants then at a least a nomination for something.
Sadly, that wasn’t what I sat and watched just a few hours after yet another Turkey Sandwich.
What I got was the first film this year where I left feeling in desperate need of decontamination.
Because that film is in there somewhere. But instead of being the central or indeed only focus of this film Smths character is treated more as an obstacle or plot device than a man who is in desperate need of help. Because spoiler warning…
Love, Time and Death are actually played by jobbing actors who have been hired by his work colleagues to force him into a mental breakdown so they can force him to sell his shares in an advertising company.
And if it this sounds like a massive spoiler its not. This is actually spelt out explicitly in the first twenty minutes and when Keira voices her objections to this plan it’s treated like a bump in the road, something that’s overcome very quickly so that this 97 minute comedy for sadists can continue polluting the silver screen.
Because if that plot point had been removed or left ambiguous so that the audience could make up it’s own mind then this film might have been somewhat tolerable. As is? I found it completely, morally repugnant.
But even leaving that aside, there’s nothing really here to sink your teeth into. We never see Smiths daughter or even get chance to know him before she dies and, come to think of it we never get a chance to know him or any other character afterwards either. With some slight tweaks, this could have been a jukebox film on the themes of love, death and time.
Even a pair of plot twists in the last ten minutes were painfully obvious from the first twenty minutes so you couldn’t even lose myself in the narrative.
The filming was average, the soundtrack completely bland, save for everybody actually acting like they were in a film that was going to generate award buzz rather than this… thing.
It was going for heartstrings and wound up making me feel ill. I found it unremarkably filmed, shot, and scored but even the surprisingly good acting can’t save the sheer revulsion I have at the films central plot.
My Score- FIRE. AVOID AT ALL COSTS