Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Emma Thompson, Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Day: 28 December 2006
An inventive comedy about an author of tragic novels
who’s struggling to complete her latest and best book.
She only has to figure out a way to kill off her main character,
Harold Crick, and she’ll be finished. Little does she
know that Harold Crick is alive and well in the real world
and suddenly, and inexplicably, guided by her words. Fiction
and reality collide when the bewildered and hilariously resistant
Harold hears what she has in mind and realizes he must find
the author and persuade her to change he (and his) ending.
People say you should have music in your life, like a soundtrack
to a movie but having a naration just takes the cake.
to the life of Harold Crick, a bland, dull IRS auditor that
leads a bland, dull existence. Crick regulates his life down
to the minute, catching the bus every morning at the exact
same time, taking pre-determined lunch breaks and otherwise
living his life by a stultifying, suffocating routine that
leaves no room for spontaneity or intimate relationships.
But all that is about to change when one uneventful morning,
while brushing his teeth, begins to near a woman's voice
narrating his every move, commenting on his actions and his
by Marc Forster, "Stranger Than Fiction" is a darkly
whimsical dramedy that manages to walk the line between mainstream
and unconventional. Wider audiences will be taken by the way
that the imaginative story plays itself out with few moments
of pandering, while more naturally experimental, or niche,
viewers will appreciate that the film doesn't always play
things safe or dumb down the script in clichés by taking
a decidedly Charlie Kaufmanesque premise and spins it into
a occasionally unfocused, slightly overlong, but mostly entertaining
film features the most subdued performance of Will Farrell's
onscreen career. Known and loved by millions of moviegoers
for his often dim-witted, well-intentioned characters and
broad physical comedy, Farrell is obviously trying to break
into dramatic roles or at least broaden his repertoire before
his persona becomes irrevocably fixed in the minds of moviegoers.
Either way, Farrell gives a solid performance, never overplaying
the role of the emotionally repressed milquetoast.
for the remainder of the veteran cast, Emma Thompson plays
up her character's twitchiness without going into caricature
or camp. Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a relaxed, easy-to-watch
performance as the romantic interest while Queen Latifah has
a few choice interactions with Emma Thompson's character that
plays up her persona
as smart, no-nonsense, and always ready for a quip. As the
professor, Dustin Hoffman doesn't stretch much, but he also
keeps his performance
style low key and mellow, a perfect complement for the Farrell's
subdued turn as the
Than Fiction” is not a fluff film. Literate and engaging,
it may parade around in nonsensical clothes but just scratch
the surface a vast reservoir of post-modern existentialism.
How much of our lives do we actually control and how much
is already decided for us? More importantly still, are we
able to bend the ear of fate and does it have our best interests
a strong eye for details both visual and physiological –
Forster has crafted more of a fable than a film: an unhurried,
whimsical, uncommonly intelligent tale about romance, the
self-made man, and what it truly means to be human. More than
that, it confronts the responsibilities of art. When author
Eiffel discovers the truth of her situation – that to
finish her novel would mean the death of a flesh-and-blood
man – she is faced with the choice of finally writing
masterpiece or saving the life of a hum-drum everyman barely
anyone would miss anyway.
decision, I leave for you to discover.
though it some parts may be, "Stranger Than Fiction"
is a well-made and smart film that a wide spectrum of viewers
are sure to be taken with. The implausible conundrum of a
person's life being written as he lives it is handled with
a realistic tone that has one questioning as they watch Harold
how they would go on about their days knowing that their fate
was planned out in advance by a higher power. There have been
deeper explorations of such a notion in other pictures, but
"Stranger Than Fiction" remains an enjoyable experience
that ably mixes existentialism with a lighthearted touch.
(A refreshing metafictional, romantic tragicomedy that celebrates
the beauty of life,
love, and the written words in between)
Review by Lokman B S