Review / ‘Collateral Beauty’ (M) ***

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I liked this film. 

Naomie Harris and Will Smith in “Collateral Beauty”

I have a theory arising from the observation on ABC Breakfast News, on the morning of its release, that it was unpopular with critics. I’m a reviewer, describing films to help readers decide whether or not to see them.  Critics analyse films which is indeed an important function but not every reader’s cup of tea.

If I were a betting man, I’d bet that those disapproving critics esteem those mindless, violent, confrontational, aggressive, expensive muck movies based on comic strip characters in fantastical, impossible situations and evaluated more for their box office performance than for any semblance of artistic value. 

I enjoy films that invite me to think about them. That doesn’t exclude films telling stories in which fantasy is a major element. “Collateral Beauty” is one such.

Howard (Will Smith) is a company principal. When his small daughter died, he lost his life’s direction. His co-principals want to seal a corporate ownership deal. Howard won’t sign. The firm looks headed for the rocks.

With Howard’s best interest at heart, employees Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pe?a) engage an enquiry agent to follow not Howard but the envelopes he posts addressed simply to “Love”, “Time”, and “Death”. The agent guides Howard’s colleagues to three actors preparing a new play.  Brigitte (Helen Mirren), is besotted with the idea of “the part” and the getting of one, any one. Amy (Kiera Knightley) has multiple jobs while she waits for that big break. Raffi (promising Afro-American newcomer Jacob Latimore) wants to break away from the “hood”.

Repairs to Howard’s psyche get under way.

Writer Allan Loeb and director David Frankel have crafted a gently thoughtful film, played by a fine cast, leavened by warm humour and human goodness as well as grief and frustration, combining fantasy with agreeable credibility. Things get sorted out, although not as we expect. Life continues.

I liked this film.

At Hoyts Woden, Palace Electric

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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