“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t,” so says Mark Twain in one of his oft-quoted statements, from which the title for this week’s Friday Movie Flashback feature takes its title from.
The 2006 Marc Forster-helmed “Stranger than Fiction” stars Will Ferrell as Harold Crick, an Internal Revenue Service auditor whose monotonous life was shaken one day when he starts hearing a woman’s voice inside his head, narrating things as he does them; and, in a parallel story, Emma Thompson as Karen Eiffel, an acclaimed author who has been struggling to finish her latest novel. In a strange twist, Karen unknowingly has been writing about Harold and her supposedly fictional narrative has apparently been affecting the poor man’s life.
Ferrell, who’s known for his comedic chops, gets to showcase his skills in drama here and does it well. Likewise does Thomspon, who goes from detached – you’ll see that she’s bent on trying to come up with the way to kill off her hero, really immersing herself in possible scenarios leading to death just like how a writer would normally do – to humane, because what for her at first was simply writing yet another one of her tragic novels led her to question her morals. Now that she knows he’s a real person, can Karen still bring herself to kill Harold, a move that would supposedly be a testament to the author’s brilliance? Suffice it to say that “Stranger than Fiction” ends on a typical, happy note, but even so, it doesn’t sacrifice what good the film was able to establish right from the beginning.
“Stranger than Fiction,” in a word, is genius. Personally it’s nothing like any of the movies I’ve seen so far, one of those rare gems that can boast of truly standing out among the rest. It’s a complex, thought-provoking, beautiful story all at the same time. Every detail introduced, no matter how disconnected it seemed at first, served its purpose. Perhaps it’s writers who would find “Stranger than Fiction” especially interesting, given its premise, although I’m sure anyone would be able to appreciate it nevertheless. “Stranger than Fiction” also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as Ana Pascal, a clever baker who Harold was tasked to audit and eventually falls in love with; Dustin Hoffmann as university literature professor Jules Hilbert, whose Harold sought for help after a visit to a shrink proved futile; and Queen Latifah as Karen’s persistent assistant Penny Escher.
Watch the trailer for “Stranger than Fiction” below:
Like this article? Check out our articles from the Friday Movie Flashback series in the Lomography magazine!