Collateral Beauty (PG13: brief coarse language)
Starring Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley Directed by David Frankel
Will Smith in Collateral Beauty is New York advertising executive Howard Inlet, a puffy-eyed recluse since his daughter’s death, penning angry, questioning letters to Death, Love and Time — these abstract concepts, to his astonishment, materialising to reply him in the person of, respectively, sage Helen Mirren, spunky Keira Knightley and smart-talking Jacob Latimore.
Michael Peña, Edward Norton and Kate Winslet are Howard’s concerned business partners, who have actually hired actors to intervene with the intention of aiding Howard’s recovery.
This inspirational ensemble drama from director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada; Marley & Me) is so implausibly contrived I am worn out just summarising it.
That’s before I even get to the co-conspirators’ own Death-Love-Time issues. Peña’s family man is hiding a terminal illness. Norton’s divorcé can’t connect with his daughter. Winslet’s singleton has a fast-ticking biological clock.
And Naomie Harris, she has a role that offers a calculated Final Twist to top them all. Everyone learns a life lesson, to wit, bereavement can reveal moments of “collateral beauty” or some such touchy-feely baloney, which the actors — however did a movie this ill-conceived attract such a talent pool? — valiantly deliver straight-faced. 2/5