Thursday, 25 April 2019

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) – movie review

**imported content from the old website**

I’ve decided not to subject myself to the new “HOLMES AND WATSON” – so instead, I’m looking back at a much better Will Ferrell movie – “STRANGER THAN FICTION”.

Let me say upfront that I’m not exactly Will Ferrell’s biggest fan. I don’t hate the guy or anything; I’m sure he’s nice, and I don’t think he’s a bad actor. I found him pretty funny back in his SNL days, but other than that, I could count on one hand the amount of movies I’ve enjoyed with him. “Stranger Than Fiction” is one of those movies. It shows off more of Will Ferrell’s range than anything before or since, and I happen to think it’s quite underrated.

Plot


“Stranger Than Fiction” tells the story of a man called Harold Crick, an IRS agent who follows strict routines in his daily life and never does anything new. His life begins to change one day when he starts to hear the voice of a narrator in his head – a strange woman who describes how he’s thinking, feeling, and even what he’s doing. We soon find out that Harold is a fictional character in an author’s story. The problem is, this author is known for killing off all her protagonists – and if Harold doesn’t do something, he’s going to be next.


We start by following Harold Crick as he lives his life. We get some narration, which Harold starts hearing too. This, understandably, freaks him out a little…especially when it predicts his death. 
No one understands or believes that this is real – which…fair enough. Even we can’t be sure it’s real at first. Dude works at the IRS – that can’t be fun. I mean, if I had to work in taxes, my brain would turn into scrambled eggs as well.

But there is one guy who believes him – a literature professor who encourages Harold to seek out the author before she kills him off.  This professor dude is like every professor I always dreamed of having. He’s pretty weird and just kind of down for everything. Also, his office is basically made of books and I want to lock myself in there and never come out.

While Harold is trying to find his narrator, he has to audit a radical anti-authoritarian baker. She’s hip and has a tattoo sleeve, and she doesn’t pay taxes. Her name is Ana, and she is basically Harold’s opposite in every way. It feels like this might be really forced, but they actually have quite a sweet relationship when it gets going. They start off clashing in a very believable and understandable way, especially because Harold himself is kinda creepy towards her at first. You realise that he’s never really experienced these feelings before – she’s new and exciting, and you kind of understand that, because through his animosity, then friendship, then romance with her, Harold begins to see what’s been missing in his life all this time.

Thoughts


So this film is not a regular Will Ferrell comedy. I’d describe it best as a tender drama with some lightly comedic moments. Most of the heart comes from the gentle interactions between characters; it’s one of those movies that makes you feel kind of wistful the whole way through, even if you’re not sure why. It balances a lot of the more humourous moments and strange situations with plenty of bittersweet coating.

“Stranger Than Fiction” manages to make me feel hopeful for the future, and also painfully existential. Harold is a man who has spent his whole life being insignificant. But he’s not insignificant because he hasn’t become famous or discovered anything; Harold is insignificant because he never takes risks, he never grows, changes – no one loves him and he loves no one. I think we all fear becoming this at some point, or that we are this already. The film holds that mirror to us, but reminds us that hope is never lost; it is never, ever to late to start living your life for everything it’s worth.
I’ve heard the film described as like diet-Charlie Kaufman, which I think is fair to an extent. The fact that these weird things going on – like the fact that Harold is a fictional character from a novel – is just sort of something to be accepted. We never find out why or how this has happened or whether it’s happened before, but we do get hints of other characters who seem to be a part of Harold’s story; are they self-aware too? Who knows! But it doesn’t really matter, I guess.

“Stranger Than Fiction” keeps the surrealism minimal in order to reach a more universal appeal and forge its own identity – and yet, it doesn’t feel like anything has been sacrificed here. It is a simple, tender story that knows what it is and what it wants to say.

Closing Analysis


“Stranger Than Fiction” is the perfect rainy-day date movie. It’s funny and sad, charming, sentimental and existential. It’ll make you sigh and smile, and – ultimately – you’ll find yourself coming back to it more and more.


Cheers and cheerio!

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