Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stranger than Fiction: Movie Review

 

A discussion on tragedy and comedy played out as a smart, original version of both.

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is a lonely man. He has no ambitions in life and gets through the days counting brush strokes, counting steps and counting numbers as an IRS agent. “Stranger than Fiction” tells a smart and original tale of what happens when Harold becomes the hero of a fictional novel. He hears the narration in his head and the only two explanations are: either he’s going insane or he’s going crazy. 2006

Directed by: Marc Forster

Screenplay by: Zach Helm

Starring: Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Naturally his first visit is to a psychiatrist who informs he has schizophrenia, but surely that can’t be the answer since the voice isn’t talking to him, it’s talking about him. His next visit is to a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman) who finds Harold’s predicament interesting enough that he agrees to help him out. The film is funny in a quirky way as we are introduced to Harold’s OCD habits and the professor’s neurotic literary obsessions.

The interactions between Harold and Professor Hilbert are hilarious. Hilbert just wants to know what this is going to reveal about literature or the author but Harold just wants to know if he is going to live or die. That is contingent upon whether or not the author is writing a tragedy or comedy. And that’s exactly what makes “Stranger than Fiction” such an astounding film.

It cleverly discusses the various elements of tragedies and comedies while simultaneously playing it out as both. Harold is trying to prepare himself for his inevitable death, but then he meets a girl. Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a wonderfully written love interest, full of wit, determination and self-assurance. Ferrell delivers one of the best performances of his career because it’s so much more dramatic than it is comedic.

Rarely laugh-out-loud funny, the film still delights through each twist of the narrative. The characters are just as unique and original as they are quirky and take us well beyond the realm of fact. So far past reality, it is indeed stranger than fiction.