'Collateral Beauty' Isn’t Based On A Book, But The Movie’s Plot Would Be At Home In Any Library
Will Smith is back in another emotionally-heavy film in the vein of The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds with Collateral Beauty . But this time, the story includes a considerable fantasy element, as Smith plays a man who writes letters to Love, Time, and Death as a way of self-therapy while dealing with his personal grief after the passing of his daughter — but then anthropomorphic versions of these concepts literally show up in his life to help him rediscover his purpose. It's quite the story, but where did it come from? What is Collateral Beauty based on?
Although the story certainly sounds like it could have come from a piece of literature, that's not the case. The movie comes from an original screenplay by screenwriter Allan Loeb, whose previous credits are mostly made up of lighthearted romantic comedies like the Jennifer Aniston vehicles The Switch and Just Go With It. According to InqPOP, Loeb had been tossing around the idea for the movie in his head for some time before writing it down. "[The story] came together piece by piece over a long period of time as I wrote other movies and worked on other things," he said. "It was a little story in my head that kept nagging at me, about a man who writes letters to abstractions like time, love, and death, and why would he do that?"
According to the same article, director David Frankel compared the story to an all-time classic work by William Shakespeare. "He’s struggling with big, philosophical questions and looking to the universe for answers," Frankel said of Smith's character. "Like a modern day King Lear, you might say, he’s howling at the gods." In King Lear, the titular ruler also suffers the loss of his daughter(s), though under vastly different (and more treacherous) circumstances.
It's also not too much of a stretch to see the similarities between Collateral Beauty and another classic story: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Both feature three supernatural entities attempting to correct the path of a wayward soul and inspire him to discover the true meaning of Christmas, err, of life. While I haven't seen Loeb reference Dickens' work as an inspiration for the film, the two stories certainly bear more than a passing resemblance to one another.
So even though Collateral Beauty isn't based on any book, it's not hard to see how some pieces of classic literature could have possibly played a role in forming the film's inspiring story.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures