A Decent Will Ferrell movie?
I first watched this film ages ago when I was ill and needed something to watch which was easy and simple. Instead I got something which surprised me. I was looking through Netflix, saw Will Ferrell, thought “ah, Will Ferrell, this will be vaguely funny, why not?”. It was not any old Will Ferrell movie…
Stranger than Fiction is directed by Marc Forster (known for movies such as world war Z and the Kite Runner), it’s about the tax man Harold crick (Will Ferrell); Harold Crick lives in a strict routine, alone and with no friends. His life takes an unexpected turn when he begins to hear a voice which narrates his life with extreme accuracy. Crick is annoyed by this however when on the way home from work it says “little did he know that this, simple seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death” he can no longer ignore it. Crick tries to stop his fate so he meets a professor of literature theory, Jules Herbert (Dustin Hoffman) who leads him to find that life is being written by the famous writer Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) and the conflict this causes may not be in Crick’s best interest.
The music is done by Britt Daniel and Brian Reitzell – they did a fantastic job. The music perfectly captures the sorrow, awkwardness and repetition of Crick’s life (just wanted to add that).
The performances in this film are amazing, if you like the film or not this is hard to deny this fact. My favourite being that of the writer Karen Eiffel; Emma Thompson perfectly captures the quirky, weird, opinionated mess that is Eiffel. In the story Eiffel struggles with a severe case of writers block and the extremely awkward case “the fact her fictional character is real”. Thompson perfectly brings that to life; Eiffel has a nasty smoking habit and she does a thing where she stuffs the cigarette buts in tissue that she spat into. In an interview she says she came up with that method which I couldn’t help but find brilliant. Will Ferrell surprised me as I never expected him to able to act in a film which wasn’t just a cheap laugh, he pulled it off and I saw a performance I never seen before in Will Ferrel. I would love to see him take on more performances like this, and less films which are dumb and dumber styled ones. Some of you might have seen this but he’s staring in a comedy where he plays Sherlock Holmes; not to be dramatic, but it actually hurts me to know he can do roles like this and doesn’t. He should be working out his comfort zone of basic comedy and work on more ambitious films.
Dustin Hoffman’s character, Professor Jules Hilbert, is brilliantly acted and funny. I enjoyed his character – he is a bit rude and cares a lot about good literature as well as the little things like how he watches old writer interviews and the fact he drinks a lot of coffee. The tracking shot reverse shot conversation he has with Harold Crick was brilliant; the speed of the editing conveyed the stress of Crick and how uninterested Hilbert is, furthermore its a brilliant introduction to Hilbert, the pacing slows down when Hilbert talks about “little did he know” more over the camera zooms in on him as he speaks.
The film has these white lines which are meant to be Crick’s train of thought and as a representation of how he obsessively counts things. he’s someone with very orderly, mathematical, mind (he says his favourite word is “integer”). these lines line up and show right angles, amounts and distances. I enjoyed this detail. when Crick is having a bad day and loses count of his steps while being late for the bus all the numbers flop to the floor as he loses focus. When he is love-sick for Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the brush stroke counts turn to ANA. This slight element really shows Crick’s change in the film.
The scene where Crick brings Ana Pascal the “flours” and says “I want you”, I realise it’s meant to be cute and charming that someone can’t find the words ask so mething like this but instead I found it possessive and creepy. I wouldn’t mind it if she bought it up and was part of the comedy.
As much as I love the film, I find there are a couple of issues regarding the rules of the universe. I don’t mind that the writing of Crick just starts in his head although the book been being written for almost 10 years ago. What confuses me is when Eiffel is writing the end of the book, she is writing about Crick calling Eiffel about Eiffel wrighting a story about Crick. I find this extremely confusing because that means she has lied about what her story has been about? AND it makes the whole side plot about the little boy on the bike and the woman looking for a job irrelivent? Personally I think it could have been written a bit more clearly.
The film has a simple message of the dangers of routine and to live life to the full, however this has got a deeper message which confuses me to the extreme and I love it. The film comments on the belief that all the best literature is tragedy and the clichés that come with that, as well as the nature of comedy and how clichés can work with that. To be honest it’s up to you your interpretation as I can really put mine into words. I know it makes no sense but you’ll love it too.
END OF SPOILERS
The film had mixed reviews when it came out with audiences saying that it wasn’t really a comedy and people being confused as to what they’ve just seen. I was the same, the film left me deep in thought (mainly due to Will Ferrell’s decent performance in a film like this). The film was indeed ambitious but I think it worked; I enjoyed the literary side of it (even if its only because I’m doing an english literature A-level). I found the story exiting and I always wanted to know what happens next. It’s wont leave you laughing endlessly but you will be entertained as its funnier in a smarter way. If you want a nice laugh or enjoy a slightly different type of film, this is for you. I give the film
Thanks for reading, it means a lot. If you see any spelling, grammar or literary mistakes, please tell me. I’m dyslexic and would appreciate this so I may improve.
by Frederic Hall
Facts taken from imdb and rotten tomatoes