Collateral Beauty: A Modern Day Christmas Carol

Written by Megan LaBruna

Collateral Beauty Plot Summary:

A marketing team on the brink of losing their company take an unorthodox approach toward intervening in their boss’ battle with the untimely death of his daughter by hiring a trio of actors to portray the “things” he has been writing to: Death, time, and love.  Over the course of their plan they begin to realize their own battles with these individual concepts.

Collateral Beauty can be likened to a modern and abstract take on the popular holiday story A Christmas Carol.  While the cast is noticeably different, and the circumstances of the main character are vastly polarizing to that of Mr. Scrooge, the essence of battling the invisible construct of time is still very much present. In this case, however, the “ghosts” aren’t broken down into past, present, and future, but rather as death, time, and love.

First and foremost, the casting of this film was spot on, which is what allows for the audience to get swept up in the story.  Will Smith was able to encompass the agony his character Howard carried from losing a young child and show how easily it is to let everything else completely fall apart around you because of that pain. The three entities, Helen Mirren as Brigitte/Death, Keira Knightley as Amy/Love and Jacob Latimore as Raffi/Time were inspired choices. And where Collateral Beauty really separates itself from the old classic is the fact that this film focuses heavily on its secondary characters, Howard’s co-workers Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pena).

I think adding this additional layer of depth and delving into not only their relationship with their boss, but also their own internal struggles surrounding death, time and love helped to make this film not only more relatable, but also more intriguing and true to life.  We all are motivated to help those that we care about, but our actions in doing so are sometimes influenced by what we have going on in our own lives, even if we don’t realize it and that theme very much played through in this film.

It has been a while since I have experienced a film that encompassed the nostalgia of “home”.  Everything from the scenery to the soundtrack helped immerse the viewer into the reality of the film.  I find it to be an amazing feat when the director is able to encompass and evoke a specific feeling in a vast audience and that is exactly what David Frankel has accomplished.  I have never walked a mile in the shoes of these people, and yet I could comprehend the actions and choices they have made. It is the right balance of realistic vs. cheesy sentiment.  It’s not so unbelievably optimistic, and yet it has enough “magic” to leave viewers inspired to make a change or a connection in their own lives.

Is the movie a little predictable? Yes. But that doesn’t take away from its very important theme “Just make sure you notice the collateral beauty”.   So if you are looking for a movie that will inspire you to truly encompass the holiday spirit, then I highly recommend you do not miss out on Collateral Beauty.

Rating: 7 out of 10