Everybody knows that your life is a story. But what if a story was your life? Harold Crick is your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life. The narrator it is extraordinarily accurate, and Harold recognizes the voice as an esteemed author he saw on TV. But when the narration reveals that he is going to die, Harold must find the author of the story, and ultimately his life, to convince her to change the ending of the story before it is too late. Written by
Detailed, Astute, Eclectic, and Entertaining Pseudo-Comedy
"Stranger than Fiction" is the complex tale of a simple IRS man named Harold Crick (an appealing Will Ferrel) who one day awakes to his own voice-over narration only to find he is the unwitting main character in the new tragic novel from acclaimed author Karen Eiffel (an excellent return to form for Emma Thompson). Imagine a Charlie Kaufman penned film where all the cynicism and nihilism is replaced with an endearing and heartfelt melancholy that creates a surprising amount of emotional involvement in characters who would've otherwise been over-reaching literacy devices, and you'll get a feel for the sincere type of entertainment Marc Forster's film provides.
Forster, with his keen eye and eclectic visual sense, populates the film the sharp and contrasting visual angles, camera tricks, and in-frame oddities (like the play with numbers) constantly keeping the viewer engaged and on their toes. Fun supporting turns from Dustin Hoffman as a literary theorist employed by Krick to help find out if the story he is in is a comedy or tragedy, and Queen Latifah as Eiffel's no-nonsense publishing assistant help guide the viewers through imaginative stretches that are occasionally too clever by half. Ferrel gets to show some nice range here, and much like Robin Williams did with "The World According to Garp" and Jim Carrey did with "The Truman Show," graduates with honors into more high-minded quasi-serious roles. His co-lead Thompson is subtly method and well studied as the reclusive sociopathic author who just can't help killing her characters.
What really seals the deal is Maggie Gyllenhal as Farrell's love interest, the anti-establishment baker he is assigned to audit. She literally lights up the screen. There's one expertly framed and perfectly lit shot of her standing outside her townhouse inviting Farrel in for the night where the light from street lamp off screen is filtered in through the shadows of tree branches and hits her face in such a way that in that brief flickering frame you become insanely happy to be watching such a pleasant marriage of literary concepts inside a visual medium. At this point you don't care how the film ends. You're just grateful to experience that giddy moment of pure movie entertainment.
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