Stranger Than Fiction Review: A Clever Dramedy
by Josh Green
November 11, 2006
Stranger Than Fiction is about a man named Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). Harold appears to be living a rather bland life until one day when he wakes up hearing a woman narrating his life. That woman, Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson), turns out to be an author whose newest book is actually about Harold Crick. Problems arise when Harold hears this narrator speak of his death. Confronting a University Professor of Literature (Dustin Hoffman) and falling in love with a near by baker (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Harold must figure out the ending to his life that is being written with every step he takes.
Stranger Than Fiction is one of the most cleverly written stories of the year. It is original, self-reflective, funny, and depressing at the same time. By being self-reflective, the movie is able to critique itself because of its story within a story structure. The movie is funny on the surface but is actually more dismal than anything. The comedy in the film only comes from the sheer depression of Harold's miserable life.
Will Ferrell gives my favorite performance of his career as Harold Crick. This is not the Ferrell that we are used to. He throws away his Anchorman and Ricky Bobby behavior and puts on the poignant wristwatch and necktie of Harold Crick, giving us the strongest and most interesting character he has played yet. The rest of the cast is top notch too, each adding their own little spark in Harold's dark life.
The most interesting question that Harold faces is whether his life is a comedy or tragedy. The irony is that the audience doesn't know either. This theme runs through most of the movie with witty interactions between Ferrell and Gyllenhaal and at the end the ultimate confrontation between Harold and his author. The parallel between Harold's life and the storyline of the movie is clever even until the very end.
Stranger Than Fiction offers strong performances, clever comedy, and an original story. It is good to see that Hollywood hasn't run out of original ideas yet. If you chose to go to this movie for only one reason, it should be to see Ferrell's irresistible performance as Harold Crick.