Hidden Beauty, Collateral Beauty in English, is a North American film directed in 2016 by David Frankel.This film was highly anticipated and brought together actors such as Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Hellen Mirren, Will Smith or Keira Knightley. However, despite the expectations and the interpretative quality of its actors, critics have been, in general, negative.
From a cinematic point of view,the film falls into the melodrama and the tearful. There is an overdose of dialogues and phrases that seek emotion but are only superficial.Hidden beautyspeaks to us about an interesting theme but falls into a forced sentimentalism that is not credible. A sentimentalism tooHollywood.The fact that it happens in New York at the time of Christmas does not help either: the film becomes a kind of Christmas TV movie for the whole family.
The subject is interesting. Charles Dickens' very clear influence with hisChristmas tale.The story dealsof a man who, after the tragic death of his 6 year old daughter, finds himself plunged into a deep depression.His colleagues and friends try to help him and engage three actors to represent three abstract concepts: Love, Death and Time. In short, it is an allegory of life and an exposition of the main fears we face. The film also brings us closer to a very common problem in our society: depression.
If we put aside the sweetened aspect of the film, the lack of naturalness that is noted from the beginning and the extremely predictable weft, we must still admit thatHidden beautytransforms a tragic situation into a fable or story.In this article, we will not focus on the cinematic side of the film. We will deal rather with the subject itself and the lessons that we can draw from it. While not forgetting his connection with psychology.
The loss inHidden beauty
The film begins with a motivational speech delivered by the character of Will Smith. Howard Inlet is a boss who is very successful in the advertising field.In his speech, he says that three essential things connect all human beings: love, time and death. "We want to find love, we want to have more time and we are afraid of death". Moments later, we see a very different present. Howard has indeed lost his six-year-old daughter. Following this event, he no longer feels joy for nothing, whether for his work, his friends or life. Howard does not speak anymore, shows no interest in anything, and is always on the brink of tears.
This death, in addition to plunging him into a depression that prevents him from going forward, pushed him to separate from his wife.This is what happens for the majority of couples after the loss of a child. The motives that lead a couple to separate after such events can be very diverse. It is very common that many conflicts arise: one of the members can "better" manage the situation, the two can reject each other the fault of this death, one may not be able to overcome this ordeal …
The grieving process is a difficult step for everyone. Especially if it's about the death of a child.In some people, this grief will resolve over time and in a natural way. Various phases will be crossed until the acceptance of the situation. However, other people may find themselves stuck and fail to move forward. This will eventually lead to a disorder. Howard, for example, suffers from a deep depression united to a state of negation that prevents him from speaking about the subject and from bonding with others.
His friends and colleagues are concerned about his emotional situation.To accept that a person whom you love and have always seen full of life is immersed in depression and unable to move forward is not easy. Nevertheless, they still decide to help him.They are also motivated by the situation of the company that directly affects them. For this, they hire a detective who discovers that Howard writes letters to Love, Death and Time. These are the concepts he was dealing with positively at the beginning of the film.
Seeing this,they decide to hire three actors to embody these concepts.In this way, they will show that his mental health does not allow him to work and Howard will be able to realize the situation in which he is immersed.
The Christmas context of the film is also important. This is a date when emotions are on edge.It's also a time for reflection.The ghosts of the past appear as in the work of Dickens and the memories of those who have left us reappear.
Allegories and the meaning of death
Howard's friends also live a special mourning and a personal struggle. They see their work in danger when it is the only thing left to them.Whit has just divorced and her daughter hates him; in a way, he has also lost someone important in his life. Claire dedicated her entire life to work; she never started a family and she is afraid of growing old. Simon discovers that he has an illness that will eventually kill him; he has just been a father and does not want to reveal this fact to his family.
Actors who interpret allegorical characters (love, time and death) will connect deeply to their role.Death will be extremely connected to Simon and help him accept his destiny; Love will do the same thing with Whit, who will try to get closer to his daughter; Time, meanwhile, will help Claire to think. These three stories will mingle with Howard's plot and his path to acceptance. The latter will be complemented by group therapy alongside people in the same situation as him.
Death is what awaits all human beings. It does not matter who you are or what you do: in the end, we will all die.A painting by Juan de Valdés Leal,Finished gloriae mundi,illustrates this idea very well. It is a work in which the painter has represented various bodies in decomposition; the luxurious coffin of the bishop contrasts with those much poorer found at the bottom of the work, while a divine hand holds a balance, in reference to the judgment of souls.
So,Hidden beauty presents us with a successful man who faces the death of his daughter.In this way, from the beginning, the film reminds us that death is waiting for us all. Will Smith himself discovered during filming that his father would soon die. Once again, death can occur at any moment.
The protagonist ofHidden beautycan not accept that his daughter died before him, without having had the time to live. Now, as the movie tells us,time is nothing more than a perception. Even if we can measure it, we decide for ourselves what we will do with it. Moreover, love represents this force present in all that surrounds us,even in pain. This is the collateral beauty that the film invites us to seek and discover.