Collateral Beauty isn't the worst of these I've seen all month, but it's the perfect example of how one detail can ruin the whole, slowly unraveling every strand, revealing how bad the individual pieces are. It's an emotional tale of Will Smith having to accept and move on from the death of his daughter, but while seeing the embodiment of Death, Love and Time, it should at worst be a well meaning but missed opportunity but the film had to make that be at it's best. Again, it's not the worst I've seen, nor is it an unintentional comedy as some have suggested, but it is very cruel in its spirit.
The detail missed in a lot of promotional material, the reason why this has earned a lot of it's hate, is that what sets this emotional journey in motion is by all means, fucked up. Some might say that's the point, I argue that it makes me care less about it's supporting cast and makes the positive messages feel less real as a result. Get ready I'm about to spoil this, Will Smith, our lead, meets the embodiments, because three of his employees decided it was okay to make an emotionally wounded person appear insane so they could sell the company, no really. Keep in mind, the film never says these people are bad, in fact when they reveal this info to Smith it's waved off as an act of desperation coming from people who care, no good friend would ever consider this so easily. The only real reason I can see on why they made this choice, is so the film could explain why each of these characters interact with one of the embodiments, which is a dumb reason, because are these people redeemable after being so fucked up? I think not.
I know you're probably questioning, how can the employees know about the embodiments? Well the thing is, they're actors (again fucked up) paid to make Will look insane by having them bug him, while someone records and digitally removes them. Except by the end it turns out that they are the real deal, it's meant to be a sentimental twist, but really it's stupid and the film would've benefited from removing the cruel reason on how it all begins.
The movie has a lot of dumb twists come to think of it, I'm not just being mean here. One of the running plot threads involves a woman Will meets in a support group, she's accepted the death of her daughter and wants Will to accept his loss as well. The twist being, she's actually the wife and Will has just forgotten, or tried to erase the truth from his loss, that the mother of his child was devastated as well. Admittedly this could've worked in a better film, but in this, where so much plot is focused in explaining cruel people are doing cruel things, this just comes out of nowhere and feels unearned.
It's not the worst, but Collateral Beauty is the most fucked up movie I've seen this month, that is pretty impressive in all the worst ways.
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Written by Octaviano Macias