Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Professor Jules Hilbert: No, why did you change the book?
Kay Eiffel: Lots of reasons. I realized I just couldn't do it.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Because he's real?
Kay Eiffel: Because it's a book about a man who doesn't know he's about to die and then dies. But if the man does know he's going to die and dies anyway, dies willingly, knowing he could stop it, then... I mean, isn't that the type of man you want to keep alive?
Harold Crick: Ten seconds ago you said you wouldn't help me.
Professor Jules Hilbert: It's been a very revealing ten seconds, Harold.
Harold Crick: [to Ana] This may sound like gibberish to you, but I think I'm in a tragedy.
Professor Jules Hilbert: No one wants to die, Harold, but unfortunately we do. Harold, you will die someday, sometime. Heart failure at the bank. Choke on a mint. Some long, drawn-out disease you contracted on vacation. You will die. You will absolutely die. Even if you avoid this death, another will find you and I guarantee that it won't be nearly as poetic or meaningful as what she's written.
Penny Escher: And I suppose you smoked all these cigarettes?
Kay Eiffel: No, they came pre-smoked.
Penny Escher: Yeah, they said you were funny.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Aren't you relieved to know you're not a Golem?
Harold Crick: Yes. I am relieved to know that I am not a Golem.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Good.
Professor Jules Hilbert: [sighs] Do you have magical powers?
Harold Crick: Big flag-burning to get to?
Ana Pascal: Actually, it's my weekly evil-conspiracy and needlepoint group. You wanna come?
Harold Crick: I left my thimbles and socialist reading material at home.
Harold Crick: [crying] You're asking me to knowingly face my death?
Professor Jules Hilbert: Yes.
Harold Crick: Really?
Professor Jules Hilbert: Yes.
Kay Eiffel: Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.
Kay Eiffel: [Penny goes to answer phone] Don't answer that!
Penny Escher: Didn't you say this phone never r - ?
Kay Eiffel: Shh!
[types another sentence; the phone rings and she runs to answer it]
Kay Eiffel: Hello?
Harold Crick: Is this Karen Eiffel?
Kay Eiffel: Yes.
Harold Crick: My name is Harold Crick. I believe you're writing a story about me.
Kay Eiffel: I'm sorry?
Harold Crick: My name is Harold Crick.
Kay Eiffel: Is this a joke?
Harold Crick: No. No, I work for the IRS. My name, Miss Eiffel, is Harold Crick. When I go through the files at work I hear a deep and endless ocean.
Kay Eiffel: [gasps; drops phone in terror] Oh, G - !
Harold Crick: Miss Eiffel?
Ana Pascal: I won't be paying, Mr. Crick. No matter how big the percent.
Harold Crick: No, I know. But the percent determines how big your cell is.
Kay Eiffel: [narrating] It wasn't just about finding a guitar. It was about finding a guitar that said something about Harold. Unfortunately, this guitar said: "When I get back to Georgia, that woman gonna feel my pain." This one said something along the lines of: "Why, yes, these pants are Lycra." These said, "I'm very sensitive, very caring and I have absolutely no idea how to play the guitar." "I'm compensating for something. Guess what." And then Harold saw it.
Kay Eiffel: [sees Harold for the first time] Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
Harold Crick: Miss Eiffel?
Kay Eiffel: Your hair. Your eyes. Your fingers. Your shoes.
Harold Crick: Hello. I'm Harold Crick.
Kay Eiffel: I know.
Harold Crick: How are you?
Ana Pascal: I'm lousy. I'm being audited.
Harold Crick: Of course.
Ana Pascal: By a real creep too.
Harold Crick: I think I owe you an apology.
Ana Pascal: Really?
Harold Crick: IRS agents, we're given rigorous aptitude tests before we can work. Unfortunately for you, we aren't tested on tact or good manners, so I apologize.
Harold Crick: I ogled you. Sorry.
Ana Pascal: Okay, apology accepted. But only because you stammered.
Penny Escher: [They are in a hospital ward surround by lots of sick and injured people] What are we doing here? I don't even think we're supposed to *be* in here.
Kay Eiffel: You told me I needed visual stimulation.
Penny Escher: Yeah, I meant a museum or something.
Kay Eiffel: I don't *need* a museum. I need the goddamn infirm.
Penny Escher: [slightly under her breath] You *are* the infirm.
Kay Eiffel: What's this?
Penny Escher: It's literature on the nicotine patch.
Kay Eiffel: I don't need a nicotine patch, Penny. I smoke cigarettes.
Penny Escher: Well, it may help.
Kay Eiffel: May help? Help what? Help what, Penny? Help write a novel?
Penny Escher: May help save your life.
Kay Eiffel: I'm not in the business of saving lives.
[spits into tissue to Penny's disgust, and puts cigarette in tissue]
Kay Eiffel: In fact, just the opposite.
[wipes water out of eye]
Harold Crick: You keep your files like this?
Ana Pascal: No, actually I'm quite fastidious. I put them in this box just to screw with you.
Harold Crick: You have to understand that this isn't a philosophy or a literary theory or a story to me. It's my life.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Absolutely. So just go make it the one you've always wanted.
Harold Crick: Aren't you too old to go to space camp?
Dave: You're never too old to go to space camp, dude.
Harold Crick: What do these questions have to do with anything?
Professor Jules Hilbert: Nothing. The only way to find out what story you're in is to determine what stories you're not in. Odd as it may seem, I've just ruled out half of Greek literature, seven fairy tales, ten Chinese fables, and determined conclusively that you are not King Hamlet, Scout Finch, Miss Marple, Frankenstein's monster, or a golem. Hmm? Aren't you relieved to know you're not a golem?
Harold Crick: Yes, I am relieved to know that I am not a golem.
Karen Eiffel: As Harold took a bite of Bavarian Sugar Cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be okay. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian Sugar Cookies, and fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin... or a kind and loving gesture... or a subtle encouragement... or a loving embrace... or an offer of comfort... not to mention hospital gurneys... and nose plugs... and uneaten Danish... and soft-spoken secrets... and Fender Stratocasters... and maybe, the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are in fact here for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And so it was a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.
Penny Escher: Man in tweed?
Kay Eiffel: There's nothing wrong with him, he just likes looking at sick people.
Penny Escher: Oddly spoken with disdain.
Professor Jules Hilbert: The last thing to determine conclusively is whether you're in a comedy or a tragedy. To quote Italo Calvino, "The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death." Tragedy, you die. Comedy, you get hitched.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Meeting an insurance agent the day your policy runs out is coincidence. Getting a letter from the emperor saying he's visiting is plot. Having your apartment eaten by a wrecking ball... is something else entirely. Harold, you don't control your fate.
Ana Pascal: Mr. Crick, it was a really awful day. I know, I made sure of it. So pick up the cookie, dip it in the milk, and eat it.
[to Harold during their first meeting]
Ana Pascal: Get bent, Tax Man!
[gets everyone else in the bakery to boo Harold]
Kay Eiffel: [narrating] Why was Harold talking to this man? This man was an idiot.
Professor Jules Hilbert: [walking to pool] Some plots are moved forward by external events and crises. Others are moved forward by the characters themselves. If I go through that door, the plot continues. The story of me through the door. If I stay here the plot can't move forward, the story ends. Also if I stay here, I'm late.
Kay Eiffel: Excuse me, where are the dying people? Most of these people are sick or injured - Which is great, don't get me wrong. But they're gonna get better, which doesn't really help me. Is there any way to see the people who aren't going to get better?
Head ER Nurse: Excuse me?
Kay Eiffel: I'd like to see, if at all possible, the ones who aren't going to make it. You know, the dead-for-sure ones.
Head ER Nurse: I'm sorry, are you suffering from anything?
Kay Eiffel: [shrugs] Just writer's block.
Professor Jules Hilbert: You dislike your work?
Harold Crick: Yes.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Well, not the most insightful voice in the world, is it? First thing on the list of what Americans say they hate: work; second, traffic; third, missing socks. See what I'm saying?
Kay Eiffel: ...It came to me.
Penny Escher: How?
Kay Eiffel: Well, Penny, like anything worth writing it came inexplicably and without method.
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: Mr. Crick, you have a voice speaking to you.
Harold Crick: No, not to me - about me. I'm somehow involved in some sort of story, like I'm a character in my own life. But, the problem is that the voice comes and goes, like there are other parts of the story not being told to me. And I need to find out what those other parts are before it's too late.
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: Before the story concludes with your death.
Harold Crick: Yes.
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: [clears throat] Mr. Crick, I hate to sound like a broken record, but that's schizophrenia.
Harold Crick: You don't sound like a broken record, but, it's just, not schizophrenia.
Harold Crick: What if what I said was true? Hypothetically speaking, if I was part of a story, a narrative... even if it was only in my own mind... what would you suggest that I do?
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: I would suggest you take prescribed medication.
[Harold meets Jules Hilbert for the first time]
Professor Jules Hilbert: So, you're the young gentleman who called me about the narrator?
Harold Crick: Yes.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Says you're gonna die.
Harold Crick: Uh, yes.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Uh-huh. How long has it given you to live?
Harold Crick: I don't know.
Professor Jules Hilbert: Dramatic irony. It'll fuck you every time.
Ana Pascal: I'm a big supporter of fixing potholes and erecting swing sets and building shelters. I am more than happy to pay those taxes. I'm just not such a big fan of the percentage that the government uses for national defense, corporate bailouts, and campaign discretionary funds. So, I didn't pay those taxes. I think that I sent a letter to that effect with my return.
Harold Crick: Would that be the letter that begins, Dear Imperialist Swine?
Ana Pascal: Yes.
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, what you're describing is anarchy. Are you an anarchist?
Ana Pascal: You mean, am I a member...?
Harold Crick: Of an anarchist group, yes.
Ana Pascal: Anarchists have a group?
Harold Crick: I believe so, sure.
Ana Pascal: They assemble?
Harold Crick: I, I don't know.
Ana Pascal: Wouldn't that completely defeat the purpose?
Penny Escher: I'm Penny Escher. I'm the assistant your publishers hired.
Kay Eiffel: The spy.
Penny Escher: The assistant. I provide the same services as a secretary.
Kay Eiffel: I don't need a secretary.
Penny Escher: Then I will have to find some other way of occupying my time.
Kay Eiffel: Like watching me like a vulture in case I get distracted, because they, the publishers, think I have writer's block, isn't that right?
Penny Escher: Do you have writer's block?
[Kay doesn't answer]
[standing outside Ana's bakery, Harold starts to lose it]
Kay Eiffel: Harold suddenly found himself beleaguered and exasperated, standing outside the bakery...
Harold Crick: [screaming upwards] Shut up!
Kay Eiffel: ...cursing the heavens in futility.
Harold Crick: [continuing screaming] No I'm not! I'm cursing you, you stupid voice! So shut up and leave me alone!
[Harold is talking with a coworker, Dave, in the IRS archives]
Harold Crick: Dave, I'm being followed.
Dave: [looks around] How are you being followed? You're not moving.
Harold Crick: It's by a voice.
Dave: I'm being followed by a woman's voice.
Dave: Okay. What is she saying?
Harold Crick: She... She's narrating.
Dave: Harold. You're standing at the water cooler? What is she narrating?
Harold Crick: I... I had to stop filing. Watch. Listen, listen.
Kay Eiffel: [as Harold resumes filing, Kay's voice is heard - but only to Harold] The sound the paper made against the folder had the same tone as a wave scraping against sand. And when Harold thought about it, he listened to enough waves every day to constitute what he imagined to be a deep and endless ocean...
Penny Escher: [sitting on bench under an umbrella] May I ask what we're doing out here?
Kay Eiffel: [sitting next to Penny without an umbrella] We're imagining car wrecks.
Penny Escher: I see. And we can't imagine car wrecks inside?
Kay Eiffel: No. Did you know that 41 percent of accidents occur in times of inclement weather?
Penny Escher: So do 90 percent of pneumonia cases.
Kay Eiffel: Really? Pneumonia. That's an interesting way to die. But how would Harold catch pneumonia?
Penny Escher: Have you written anything new today?
Kay Eiffel: No.
Penny Escher: Did you read the poems I suggested, or make a list of words, buy new typing paper, anything?
Kay Eiffel: No, none of it.
Penny Escher: Sitting in the rain won't write books.
Ana Pascal: Mr. Crick. Mr. Crick!
Harold Crick: Yes, what is it?
Ana Pascal: You're staring at my tits.
Harold Crick: I wa... I don't think I was. I don't think I would do that. If I was, I can assure you it was only as a representative of the United States government.