Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

There are few delights for me greater than a film that is both willing to try something completely different, and is made by people talented enough that they are able to completely pull it off. While I’m not surprised that a movie like this didn’t do incredibly well at the box office, the idea that it didn’t even get a single Academy Award nomination is just baffling to me.

The film stars Will Ferrell as Harold Crick, an IRS agent who seems to have the most tedious life in existence. As the narrator dryly informs us, he’s so full of excitement that every morning he brushes each tooth the same number of times, and spends his life ruled by his wristwatch. This is, of course, until one morning when he suddenly starts being able to hear his narrator, and his life begins to undergo some rather understandable changes. Later, of course, he hears from his fairly oblivious narrator that his death is imminent, and he begins to engage in a mad rush to find out who his narrator is and to try and convince her that his life might actually be worth living after all.

That description makes it sound a bit like a complete nerd film, and, well, it is. But it’s one that is thoroughly absorbing, which populates its film with fully realized characters and doesn’t shy away from taking its concept as far as it can go. In one of the best parts of the film, he enlists the aid of a college professor (Dustin Hoffman) to help figure out who the narrator is, only for Hoffman to eventually decide that Ferrell should be happy that, while most people die senseless deaths, his impending demise will be coming with a strong sense of poetry to it. It can be hard for a number of people to argue against that, let alone an IRS agent. This pales, though, in comparison to the eventual meeting of Harold and the author who’s voice he has been hearing; it would be criminally unfair to reveal what happens, but you would be doing yourself a true disservice not to watch this movie and find out.

This film made my top ten list for 2006 – or at least, you know, it would have had this blog been around back then. I may do a top ten of 2006 at year’s end just so we can all be on the same page with this, we’ll see. Regardless, this is a powerful, thought provoking film, and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. I’m very happy that I got it for my friend Jasmine for Christmas, as it gave me this excuse to watch it again. There simply aren’t nearly enough films made like this, with an eagerness to try to create something that has never been done before, and with a drive to both entertain and enlighten. It really is just an incredible piece of work.

Rating: ****

1 comment:

Zed said...

This movie is way underrated, I had very low expectations for it, and it turned out to be a great film, I never thought Will Ferrell could really ACT, I mean a serious role, of course (his comedy it's great).