'Collateral Beauty' Isn't A True Story But It's As Emotional As Any Real Tale

There can never be enough Will Smith on our screens, so it's great news for lovers of the charismatic star that a new Smith-led film is heading to theaters on Dec. 16. The movie, Collateral Beauty, is a big emotional ensemble dramady about how a businessman copes with grief by writing letters after his daughter dies. The letters aren't to people, though, but rather to concepts including Death, Time, and Love, and actors including Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley play the individuals representing those concepts. The premise is imaginative and intriguing, but while the film might be emotionally real, Collateral Beauty isn't based on a true story

On first look, this film might strike many viewers as similar to the 2006 heartwarming tearjerker The Pursuit of Happyness, which also starred Smith. In the movie, the actor played a struggling father who battled homelessness and took care of his son as he worked to find business success.  That film was based off of the true life of Chris Gardner, who went on to become a millionaire and write a book called The Pursuit of Happyness, and struck a chord with audiences due in part to its grounding in a true story. 

A decade later, Collateral Beauty brings Smith back in a similarly emotional drama about a struggling father. However, in this case, the film is working entirely with fiction. Collateral Beauty, directed by David Frankel, is based off of a screenplay written by Allan Loeb. Loeb has 20 screenwriting credits to his name, and is responsible for a number of mainstream big budget movies such as The Switch, The Dilemma, 21, and his first film the well-received and deeply emotional Things We Lost In The Fire. Loeb is also the writer behind the imaginative new space fantasy film, The Space Between Us.

Smith has shown a a penchant for playing characters based on real people who have lived incredible true stories in dramatic films like The Pursuit of Happyness and 2015's Concussion, about the doctor who discovers that the repeated head injuries from football can cause a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. But Smith is a highly talented star and is able to bring sensitivity and truth to his portrayals of fictional characters as well. His role in Collateral Beauty is one that explores and reflects the very real challenge of managing one's grief after tragedy, and his character, a man holding it all together and keeping it inside after his daughter's death from cancer, is very real and relatable. Smith's character may not be based specifically off one person, but the challenge of living after loss is certainly a journey that too many real people have had to take. 

Images: Warner Bros. Pictures

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