A review of: "Stranger than fiction": a tragicomedy which was much better than I could have expected
When Harold Crick wakes up one day, a voice in his head describes his routine actions, flaws, and everyday life. Crick is a boring, unremarkable man who works as a tax collector, which perfectly encapsulates his personality. He is a respectable, stuffy, dry, and fussy citizen. Hilbert, a literature professor, advises him to determine whether his story is a comedy or a tragedy in order to try to put an end to this voice...
Why you should watch it?
We are in the world of meta-narrative, a literary genre that has become increasingly popular in recent years. In this genre, the story's workings—which are typically well concealed beneath the plot and its twists and turns—are dramatically exposed: the writers are staged, and the main characters predict and evade the literary scheme the writer has created for them. Moreover, the main character receives assistance from a literature professor of an university. Nobody had anticipated a literary critic and a fictitious character working together to attack a writer. And Harold , will learn an important truth from Professor Hilbert, played convincingly by Dustin Hoffman. Paper heroes may die, but if they deviate from the usual and illustrate fresh perspectives on time, space, emotions, and life, their stories live on in perpetuity.
Forster conveys a powerful message about the inevitable nature of destiny and the capacity of individuals to interact with it, to shape, if not entirely, at least some fundamental traits. A message, offered to the viewer in many small but juicy portions, with the thoughtful considerations mostly put into the mouth of Dustin Hoffman's character. A final message on life's philosophy reminds us of the significance of small things, of simple gestures or actions, because... the subtleties are what really counts: they are here to save our lives. Some technological devices, by which specific diagrams placed in overlays in the various frames accompany the character's obsessive actions and manias, with which we thus get our first introduction to him, add a light and humorous glamour.
The movie's beauty lies precisely in the brave decision to use the lighthearted tones of comedy to lightly say serious things that everyone knows but that one prefers not to think about. This operation might make one think of a reused recipe, but this is what gives the film its unique charm.
Who controls our destiny and what can we do about it? might be used to sum up the entire situation.
Passing to the narrative, I must object to one crucial line where the psychologist—to whom Mr. Crick desperately asks for assistance—suggests the patient to seek assistance from a literature professor. The option is undoubtedly effective for the narrative's goals and succeeds in presenting a Dustin Hoffman who can make viewers smile and think, but in my opinion, it is distinctly forced. The rest of the plot, while certainly telegraphed and linear, is so expertly told that the rest is unnecessary.
The tone is neither snobbish nor intellectualistic. Above all, surprisingly (at least for me) a character stands out, Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell in his most complex and mature performance. Harold Crick is a person like many others, harmless and subdued by his institutional role, who when faced with the possibility of an unpredictable death is overcome by the allure of the lovely Ana (a captivating Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is presented to the viewer as his opposite: a proud anarchist, a libertine spirit and hostile to rules.
I must be honest, I watched this film without much pretension. I did not have high expectations, and frankly (and here I have to make mea culpa) the fact that the main actor was Will Farrel did not excite me too much.
But True as Fiction, surprised me, it never becomes tedious because it is so effective at keeping the audience interested, and the story (although not as original as one may think), is nice and enjoyable.
So we are not talking of a masterpiece (and this is why also the mark is not too high), but still I really recommend you to watch it.
My personal vote is: