(Warning: Some Spoilers)
Stranger Than Fiction is a very creative film both in terms of narrative and execution, following the story of a man who’s life is being written out by an author in her latest novel. He discovers this when he finds a narration running through his head, an unfamiliar voice describing and implying everything he does or is to do.
This creative use of narration within the narrative world, yet also from outside of the film’s world, is a unique and useful technique in the telling of the story and providing us information on our protagonist, Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). This is turned on it’s head even more once Crick is informed of his impending doom by the narrator.
Will Ferrell’s performance as a somewhat sheepish and unassuming tax man is instantly the man you root for. His straight performance is not something to undermine or underestimate, and with this being his first dramatic outing his performance is even more impressive. He’s able to create empathy for the character and his troubled situation, we do really hope he can solve the issues that he faces. Yet the comedy aspects are also certainly still there, but less ‘in your face’ than his typical comedy films.
When this is paired with what is quite a dark comedy, the film feels somehow manages to gain an even more unique, fresh and certainly quite touching atmosphere.
However, the execution of the entire film isn’t perfect. The relationship that builds between Harold Crick and Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) does not feel entirely real or organic. It’s certainly sweet and rather touching to see Crick come out of his shell as he tries to live his life to it’s fullest, but the relationship just doesn’t have that click.
The film is essentially about a man rediscovering what it means to live whilst staring in the face of impending death. The down side to this being that the film drowns itself in “carpe diem” and philosophy surrounding life, the meaning of life etc. which makes the film feel a little too sappy and preachy toward the second act.
Despite this, the film picks up and rejoins the otherwise strong and creative plot just in time to provide a balance of heartwarming, satisfying and poetic conclusion. Ignoring the flaws, Marc Forster (Director) and Zach Helm (Writer) have created a truly unique film with a certain charm and character to it.
It isn’t perfect, but it is brilliantly unique.