Two days ago Politics Forum’s Todd VanDerWerff posted an interesting two-sided piece about Manchester By The Sea. On one hand he derided “sad white people” dramas with two observations — (1) the notion of white guys contemplating their sadness is a fundamentally privileged thing, and (2) sad white guy movies almost always rely on some sort of third-act redemption. On the other he notes that Manchester is an exception to this pattern by eschewing or subverting said tropes.
A few seconds after reading this a suspicion came to mind. By all appearances and indications David Frankel‘s Collateral Beauty (Warner Bros., 12.16) is one of VanDerWerff’s sad white guy movies, except the sad white dude is Will Smith.
The recently-popped trailer seems to fit VanDer Werff’s description to a T: “A white guy with enough of a financial cushion to contemplate his inner life realizes just how empty it is. (He probably lives somewhere in the Northeast.) He tries to fill the void with other things but continually fails. The thought keeps gnawing at him, until he returns to some sort of foundational trauma that made him who he is. With the help of others, he moves past the trauma and has a chance at something new — not necessarily better, but new.”
I don’t know if Smith’s Collateral Beauty character gets past his sadness and experiences some kind of third-act rebirth, but the trailer sure indicates this.