Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Stranger Than FictionThe idea of "Stranger Than Fiction" appealed to me the moment I first heard of it. Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell, wakes up one day and hears a voice. An omniscient narrator is relating his life with precision and no one can hear that voice but himself. It turns out that the voice is Emma Thompson, playing a famed author who is actually writing a novel about a character named Harold Crick. And it's the same Harold Crick. What is being put down in fiction is also concurrently happening in real life. It's a tricky concept, one that I felt might be impossible to pull off effectively. Well, not only does "Stranger Than Fiction" pull it off--it succeeds grandly as a surprisingly thoughtful, amusing, and moving contemplation of life. For Harold must immediately confront his mortality when the narrator informs him/us that he will soon die!

The complicated narrative of the film is pulled off brilliantly. The overlapping structure necessary to maintain the momentum and cohesion of the film must be attributed to a clever, intricate screenplay. Literate, witty, and real--it's a real treat. Lots of interesting effects help to pull the two worlds together making even the most mundane moments of Harold's life visually compelling. The movie's construction is fascinating and enjoyable.

Will Ferrell reins in his typical "overgrown kid" persona, and plays Harold as a real guy. It's refreshing and while I've never considered him a leading man type--his tentative romance with Maggie Gyllenhaal (while a bit of a stretch) is played very credibly and sweetly. Dustin Hoffman, as a literature professor helping Harold discover what book he's in, is having a great time. But it's Emma Thompson that stole my heart. As the author, she is a complete neurotic mess--but as she begins to realize what is happening, something in her transforms. Her character provides much of the film's insight and it's most powerfully dramatic acting. It's a deft balancing act, and as usual--she hit all the right marks.

After a near perfect movie, we have to bring both stories of Harold to an end. The movie turns into a poignant examination of sacrifice. If Thompson kills Harold in her novel, it will be recognized as a great piece of literature. If she lets him live, the novel will be just another routine bit of entertainment. This art versus commercialism angle is absolutely enthralling, and also surprising since it is raised so late in the film. There are moments of real power as everyone faces important life decisions--but these aren't false "lessons," they are genuine emotion that the film has subtly earned.

Ultimately, the ending is exactly what the film wants it to be. While I didn't find it the most satisfying choice--it is perfect for the movie because by this point the film itself is mirroring the novel within the film. It's a clever bit of trickery and very unusual. I admired "Stranger Than Fiction" very much and would give it 4 1/2 stars as an original and intelligent treat. KGHarris, 11/06.

A disclaimer: I've got a high tolerance for quirky and this film certainly qualifies as such. I loved it, but I love quirky films a lot more than the mainstream moviegoer.

I went to see this movie on a whim and so I didn't quite know what I was getting into. But a few minutes into it I just KNEW that it was going to be one of my favorites. And, indeed, it is one of the best films I've seen in the theater in a while. I smiled throughout the whole of it.

The story is new. The characters are engaging. And the plot is so very random that it just works.

Now I'm one of those people who ALWAYS questions the logistics of say *time travel* and/or *magic doorways* but this film was so very charming that I wasn't bothered by how incredibly non-sensical it seems: an author *creates* Will Ferrell's character and can decide if he lives or dies with her *typewriter*?


The fact of the matter is, it's a fairy tale of sorts for a new and modern society. It's filmed in such an aesthetically astute manner. The actors are at their very best and most endearing. And the writing is wholly engaging.

It's NOT your typical Will Ferrell movie and if you go into it expecting fart jokes and prat falls, you'll be disappointed. But if you go into it with an open mind and a receptive heart, I imagine you'll be quite touched by the ideas it's trying to negotiate in its sweet and clumsy way.

Buy Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Now

I loved this movie. It is funny and odd, but it has a lot of heart to it. The writing is so good that my friends and I thought at first that it must be adapted from a larger work, such as a book. The characters are that well crafted and the story that unique. These are not things most comedies bother with at present. Now, I'm calling this a comedy, but it will pull on your emotions a bit. Its all worth it though. The acting is great, which is not unexpected given the cast. If you love movies and are looking for something kind of different and original this is a good way to go. A really fun film to watch.

Read Best Reviews of Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Here

"Stranger than Fiction" opened the 42nd Annual Chicago International Film Festival. Dustin Hoffman, who plays one of the central characters in the film, was presented with the festival's Career Achievement Award and Will Ferrell participated in the ceremony. This highly clever literary/cinematic dramady is about a writer of tragedy novels who struggles with how to end her latest. As Kay Eiffel, played by Emma Thompson, imagines how to kill off her main character, her thoughts are in some way transmitted to a real man whose actual life is exactly the same as the character in the novel. Sound Trippy? Well it is; talk about being connected to your character! Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, the main character. Harold consults with a therapist for help, unsure if he's going crazy hearing the voice of a woman literally narrate his life. Unconvinced of the therapist's diagnosis, he is referred to Dr. Jules Hilbert, played by Dustin Hoffman, for further analysis. As the novel and Harold's life unfolds, Harold finds himself in a literally literary struggle to have a life by saving his life.

This film works on so many levels. First, it is a skillful display of the writing process and the importance of knowing your character literally getting in his head. The film also displays the often talked about attachment that writers can have to their characters even though that attachment could cloud the creative process necessary to finish the novel. Skillful writers are able to create characters that are so real and believable that killing them is nearly impossible. Is it the characters that drive a good story or are they subordinate to the story that they serve?

Stranger than Fiction is smart, funny, and thought provoking; I hope that this artsy release enjoys a wide viewing audience. There's as much in it for literary types and there is for film lovers and if you're both, well you're in for an extra special treat. I can usually predict the likelihood of Oscar nominations and awards for films in the festival with a high degree of accuracy. While "Stranger than Fiction doesn't" have "Oscar written all over it", it should get a nod in the original screen play category. I'm highly recommending this one. Enjoy!

Want Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Discount?

If somebody really had to die in order for the world to have HAMLET, would it be worth it? In STRANGER THAN FICTION, an author realizes to her horror that her leading character is a real man leading a real life, and if she kills off his character in her book, he will really die. If he dies, the book will be a masterpiece. If she changes the ending so that he lives, the book will only be "okay". Which would you choose?

I was surprised by STRANGER THAN FICTION. I only knew Will Ferrell from the over-the-top performances that are his trademark; I was delighted that he is also capable of a toned-down, thoughtful performance. Emma Thompson is always great--her reaction when she discovers that her character is real is exactly right. Dustin Hoffman is excellent as the nice-guy professor with an edge. He really believes that the book is worth the life of the man standing right in front of him.

STRANGER THAN FICTION is rapidly becoming one of my favorite movies. I bought it two weeks ago and have watched it three times. Each time I notice more and more of the subtle touches the director brought to the film. I highly recommend it to anybody who prefers a little thought with their comedy.

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