Will Smith talks to inanimate objects in 'Collateral Beauty'
In Collateral Beauty, Will Smith’s co-workers are really supportive. Really, really supportive. I know what happened to his character is a tragedy, but man, they are really up in his business. Ed Norton is stalking him in the elevator bank just to see if Will Smith will talk to him. Poor Ed Norton appears to be hurting just as much as Will Smith. These are just co-worker but they have lunch meetings to discuss how they can be better friends to Will Smith while also going through his mail. Do we want friends like these? The enthusiasm is great but the invasion of privacy? Not so much. I think they could take it down a couple notches. I really do.
Like many an ad man, Will Smith’s character Howard likes to think in abstractions. He has set up a lot of dominoes all around his office just to make a metaphorical point about how love, time and death are inexplicably connected. Obviously he went to the Don Draper school of advertising where you somehow bowl your clients over with philosophical musings about the fleeting whimsy of life.
It starts to really get weird when people who represent Time, Life and Death show up. These are the very vague concepts he’s been sending letters to through the mail! (As you do.) So Helen Mirren is Death. Kiera Knightley is Love. And a young teenager is Time.
The phrase “on the nose” was invented for the moment when the teenager scolds, “I’m a gift and you’re wasting me!” Also, Will Smith screams out in anguish at Kiera Knightly, “I saw you in her eyes and you betrayed me!”
The biggest problem I see with this is a lack of conflict. I understand that Will Smith is wrestling with depression. But it's solved! Three ghosts are going to visit him like three ghosts listed Ebenezer Scrooge. But unlike Howard, Scrooge was a seemingly unsympathetic jerk and the job to change him overnight before Christmas morning had a high level of difficulty. That’s tension. This is a lot more mushy. Also, I'm scared that his co-workers hired actors to do represent these ideas. If that's what happened, I can't take it. I just can't. Nobody likes their family that much, let alone a co-worker.
But don’t let that stop you if you want to see it.