Friday, November 17, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Mandate Pictures
Director: Marc Foster

Kate Eiffel has writer's block. She doesn't know how to kill her main character, Harold Crick, but she knows he has to die, and soon. Unfortunately for Harold, he's real.

One normal Wednesday, Harold starts hearing Kate's voice in his head, narrating his life. This, of course, sets him down a path that will lead, eventually, to his death. In the meantime, he tries to figure out who the voice in his head is, and how to save himself.

The plot and dialogue in Stranger Than Fiction are good, and captivate throughout the movie. You want to know the same thing that Harold does: how is he going to die, and can he stop it? Harold begins the movie as a one-dimensional character, a compulsive bean counter working as an IRS agent. He is, perhaps, the dullest person you'd ever meet. But throughout the movie, he grows on you, and although you begin the movie from the clinical perspective of the narrator, you gradually come to care about Harold and the other characters in the film, even the two characters who play a pivotal role in Harold's death, although they never speak. Most of which is yanked away near the end when Kate must complete her novel, and you are left contemplating: will he die, or not? and how?

Will Ferrell plays an excellent Harold Crick, growing throughout the movie and yet not going over-the-top, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman turn in good performances as well.

I recommend seeing Stranger Than Fiction. It has its moments of comedy and suspense, but it is a drama, and a compelling one at that, asking us to examine ourselves and our roles in life.
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