Stranger than Fiction – a review

I went to see a quirky little movie last night, Stranger than Fiction, starring Will Ferrell as a somewhat anal-compulsive IRS agent who wakes up one morning to find his life is being narrated by a voice only he can hear. I’ll do my best to avoid any spoilers in this review, but I do want to talk about the way the story is told, so it may be necessary to reveal a little about the plot as I go along.

Stories that mix reality and fiction in this way have always fascinated me. I grew up on a staple diet of fantasy and science fiction, so I know all about speculative story-telling, but most often, there is a fine line drawn between the real world that we all live in, and the world of the story, especially in the speculative area. In speculative fiction, the story is almost ALWAYS about, and set in, some ‘other’ place that we don’t really have any access to except through the story. In traditional fiction, the story is about places we know, we can visit.

What fascinated me about Stranger than Fiction was the way it was able to weave whole cloth out of a combination of the real and the speculative, a fine tapestry of silks of reality, and synthetics of fiction. They are woven together so tightly that it remains impossible to really tell the difference between the two at any given time, and even at the end of the story we are left wondering where the writers meant the lines to be drawn, and we never do get any really satisfying answers from the writers or the film.

And to me, thats part of the charm. We are left wondering about where Harold Crick came from and where he will go from here. One of the fascinating metaphors from the movie, the novel, leads to inevitable questions about beginnings and endings, and authorship, questions that the movie addresses from within the pages of the novel rather than the perspective we are used to getting, that of the reader. At just under 2 hours, it never seemed to drag … if you are into quirky comedy that asks interesting questions about the boundaries between fantasy and reality, Stranger than Fiction is well worth your time.

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