“Time, love, and death. These three tyhings connect every single human-being on Earth. We long for love. We wish we had mor time. and we fear death.” – Howard (Will Smith)
The fear of losing a loved-one is one of the most complex realities to endure. It’s part of human nature. One we may never understand. And why should we? Maybe it’s not meant to be understood. Simply accepted. We know why it happens, but the overall scope which lingers between us as souls has, is, and will always be an effect we control once we confront the inevitable. What is meant to be understood is the meaning our loved-ones generated within us during their time while alive, and the building blocks of love stacked in our minds and heart. Feed off all that’s been provided, cherish it, and find solace as we continue with our own lives.
Easier said than done, right? Yep.
That’s the magic “Collateral Beauty” digs for and exposes to its audience. Starring Will Smith as Howard, the narrative follows him. A successful NYC advertising executive who reluctantly endures a great tragedy, making him retreat from life. While his concerned friends (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Peña) try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Love, Time and Death. But it’s not until unexpected personal responses (Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore, and Keira Knightley) that he begins to understand and start generating a bigger picture on how life interlocks with the universe, and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
This film exposed and expressed more than I expected. To be honest, in some ways it’s too “perfect,” it’s annoying. Reality doesn’t play this kind of game. However, the layout does provide an interesting psychological platform. A heart-tugging piece with perfectly placed moments of humor to help balance the harsh reality of loss. Anyone who knows the cardinal rule of what makes for an excellent story (whether book, play, music, TV series, or film), knows that it’s the magic of writing that allows the outlet of art to blossom – and that’s the basis for “Collateral Beauty.” Sprinkle it with an engaging cast, nice direction, gorgeous cinematography (with NYC as a supporting role), and you’ve got a brilliant film for the holidays.
During the film’s NYC press conference with the cast, writer, producers, and director what was the key interest throughout the conversation was all about the story, reality, and hard truths about mankind’s hardest experience: dealing with loss. My interests were in knowing if their perspective approach among loss prior and post film production had changed. Putting it out there, Will Smith tackled the question and opened up quite interestingly.
“My experience during the time of working on the film, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He was given six weeks during the process of working on the film. So, it was actually a beautiful time for he and I as I was in Howard’s mind studying and reading all the different religious basis for being able to find an answer for how we recover from this kind of loss. It was sharing that with my father through the experience. Everything from the Tibetan book of the dead, to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross… Everything you could possibly do to deal with the inevitable pain of death. I was able to do it as Howard, but also be able to share and work on that with my father. So, the idea of that loss and that type of pain while working in the movie changed me forever. It’s the ultimate human difficulty. How do you deal with death and loss…? It was the perfect life-art confluence.”
And life-art it surely is. “Collateral Beauty” dares to reach out and touch your emotions. The thing is, will yours be ready to endure? As a whole, its well-intentioned premise (with surprising twists) creeps its way into your psyche and exposes the truth of humanity having way more tentacles of intrigue and emotions than most know. Truth be told, it wouldn’t surprise me if this film winds up with a few nominations. The rest is up the universe to decide!
COLLATERAL BEAUTY – In theaters December 16, 2016
Full press conference “rawdio” below if interested. (I come in at exactly 8:00) Enjoy!