By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
Stranger Than Fiction
than Fiction asks us to believe that the main character is
living in the book written by a great author. That’s setting up a
tough act to follow. What if the author they’ve created isn’t
that great, and you’re stuck for two hours watching a guy live a mediocre
book? Fortunately, they stepped up their game to avoid that.
Stranger Than Fiction Review
One morning, IRS auditor Harold Crick (Will Ferrell)
hears the voice of author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) describing everything
he’s doing. It’s just annoying at first, as she distracts him
from normal functioning and actually causes many of the mishaps she’s
describing. But soon she reveals that he is about to die, so he must figure
out how to thwart his own demise. Only a literary professor (Dustin Hoffman)
and a potential love interest (Maggie Gyllenhaal) can help him.
They certainly create the world of living in a novel well. Eiffel is the
quintessential pretentious author. Who really needs to know what a wrist
watch is thinking? Honestly.
Humor comes from the awkwardness of saying insanity as if it were reality.
Yeah, sometimes it’s the old “Will Ferrell looks like he’s
talking to himself” bit, but usually it’s addressing some literary
or philosophical concept in casual conversation.
A lot of the humor is also from Ferrell’s
helpless scream. He’s not bouncing off the walls in this movie, not
even saying anything more outrageous than the concept of the movie already
is. But he’s so desperate, just trying to be ordinary, that’s
when the Ferrell shows through.
He portrays a real human reaction to extraordinary circumstances. He gets
angry and desperate, usually sad. The intellectual analysis of the phenomenon
is awesome too. Even outside of the narrator thing, characters deeply analyzing
hypotheticals is also funny.
The concept holds up throughout the entire film, and expertly so. Even in
a stretch where the narration stops, you never forget that you’re
watching a guy living a novel. It’s all about finding one’s
place in the story, so even without the gimmick, it totally works, and it
doesn’t pound it over the head
The story is ultimately touching and bittersweet. It could be tragic, or
it could work out, but either way you feel for the character.