(L-r) WILL SMITH as Howard and HELEN MIRREN as Brigitte in New Line Cinemas’, Village Roadshow Pictures' and Warner Bros. Pictures' ensemble drama “COLLATERAL BEAUTY,” a Warner Bros Pictures release. Photo by Barry Wetcher

(L-r) WILL SMITH as Howard and HELEN MIRREN as Brigitte in New Line Cinemas’, Village Roadshow Pictures’ and Warner Bros. Pictures’ ensemble drama “COLLATERAL BEAUTY,” a Warner Bros Pictures release.
Photo by Barry Wetcher

If death sat on the bench next to us at the dog park and struck up a conversation, what would we ask?

If love sat across from us at a meal, would we give in?

If time stopped us in our tracks at the office, what would we say?

In the insightful spiritual film Collateral Beauty, advertising agency executive Howard Inlet (played by Will Smith) is confronted by just these opportunities. They are opportunities he has invited by writing a series of letters to the universe, letters he was driven to write while stuck in grief after experiencing a personal tragedy. As he both retreats from and confronts his fate and his place in the world, he addresses the forces that shape our experiences and even our very existence. In the very beginning of the film, Howard himself introduces us to their importance, pre-tragedy, in a speech he delivers to his team: “We’re here to connect. Love, time, death. Now these three things connect every single human being on earth. We long for love. We wish we had more time. And we fear death.” In this passage, he reflects on the relationships we have with those pervasive forces; relationships that are sometimes positive, at other times adversarial, and always intimate.

(Foreground L-r) MICHAEL PEÑA as Simon, KATE WINSLET as Claire and WILL SMITH as Howard in New Line Cinemas’, Village Roadshow Pictures' and Warner Bros. Pictures' ensemble drama “COLLATERAL BEAUTY,” a Warner Bros Pictures release. Photo by Barry Wetcher

(Foreground L-r) MICHAEL PEÑA as Simon, KATE WINSLET as Claire and WILL SMITH as Howard in New Line Cinemas’, Village Roadshow Pictures’ and Warner Bros. Pictures’ ensemble drama “COLLATERAL BEAUTY,” a Warner Bros Pictures release.
Photo by Barry Wetcher

Throughout our lives, we spend time bargaining, cajoling, searching and seeking, trading favors, begging, and even turning our back on all of them: love, time, and death. If we were to meet any one of them at the dog park, we might rail against them or walk away. Yet what love, time, and death really teach us, if we dare to stop to listen, is to appreciate everything we have in this moment. If we dare to face any one of these forces, if we dare to consider them carefully, we might just see that they are more than a longing, a wish, or a fear. The true reflection of this, as well as the story of the film’s title, is presented in a conversation between Howard and support group facilitator and grieving parent Madeline (played by Naomie Harris). When speaking about life after death and life during grief, Madeline says, “Collateral beauty is the profound connection to everything.”

(L-r) WILL SMITH as Howard and KEIRA KNIGHTLY as Amy in New Line Cinemas’, Village Roadshow Pictures' and Warner Bros. Pictures' ensemble drama “COLLATERAL BEAUTY,” a Warner Bros Pictures release. Photo by Barry Wetcher

(L-r) WILL SMITH as Howard and KEIRA KNIGHTLY as Amy in New Line Cinemas’,
Village Roadshow Pictures’ and Warner Bros. Pictures’ ensemble drama “COLLATERAL
BEAUTY,” a Warner Bros Pictures release.
Photo by Barry Wetcher

Perhaps this is the truest lesson amidst everything going on in life and our sometimes myopic relationships with love, time, and death. We are all connected and if we speak more often about the unspeakable, if we continue to love knowing that our heart will be broken, if we are willing to face the death of those whom we love as well as our own death, then maybe time will stop – and maybe we will experience the beauty that is at the heart of our connection to everything.

Collateral Beauty opens in theaters on December 16. For more information and to view the trailers, visit: collateralbeauty-movie.com.

Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.