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Stranger than Fiction

The Book Is Not Always Better

The well-known writer Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) has a bad case of writers block. She’s almost finished with the novel she’s been working on for the last decade, and all she has left to do is figure out how to kill off her protagonist. The problem is her main character, Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), actually exists.

Mr. Crick is a man ruled by numbers. He works for the I.R.S. and is hated by many. Including Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a baker he’s been assigned to audit with whom he feels an instant and inexplicable connection. Things have been a little strange for him as he’s recently discovered that there is a voice narrating every facet of his life. Well, at least, the ones significant to character development and plot movement.

After a psychiatrist diagnosis him as a schizophrenic, he enlists the help of a literature professor (played brilliantly by Dustin Hoffman although it seems at times like a reprisal of his role in I Heart Huckabees) to figure out the writer to whom the voice could belong. In the meantime, he discovers how to truly live.

Directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) and armed with a script written by newcomer Zach Helm, Stranger than Fiction is a feelgood film in the guise of a farce with the soul of a romantic comedy. It is wholly unique yet reminiscent of Adaptation. The quirky direction includes interesting angles, diagrams, and charts. Furthermore, besides an amazing purchase-worthy Spoon-heavy soundtrack, the movie features one of the best cookie-eating scenes of all time.

Although he is his usual earnest self, Ferrell is very subdued and much of the comedy comes from his deadpan, earnest delivery. Thompson is also excellent as the testy Eiffel, however, her role is not very full here. As is Queen Latifah’s, who plays her assistant; she gives a forgettable performance in a peripheral role.

Stranger than Fiction is engaging, creative and smart, VERY smart.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars