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Stranger than Fiction – Film Review

These reviews of various films are simply an exercise to get the students 
to put their point of view as clearly and succinctly as possible to paper.
During the semester we looked at a number of films, concentrating
largely on these films from an actors point of view.
Committing their points of view to paper clearly, as an exercise, 
is the 1st step in developing their vocabulary for examining and sharing
what does and does not resonate for them as regards script, picture, 
and performance.
Alex Murphy

stranger_than_fiction_ver2

Imagine you are an IRS agent that lives a boring, repetitive life controlled by your wristwatch. One day, while brushing all your 32 teeth for the 76th time, you start hearing a woman’s voice narrating your life. Waiting for the traffic light, the voice narrates ‘’little did he (or she) know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.’’ This puts your life upside down. What if you find out that YOU are a character in somebody’s book. What if the voice you are hearing is the voice of the writer of that book? STRANGER THAN FICTION, a weird, but good story, with some very nice acting.

I left school with a good feeling about this movie. But when I saw the question ‘’what is this movie about for the main characters?’’ I realized that I find it hard to answer this question about this particular film. Maybe it is about sacrificing for another human being. Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) has to sacrifice his own life for the best novel Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) ever wrote. And Karen Eiffel has to sacrifice that great novel if she wants to keep Harold alive. ‘’(…) if the man does know he’s going to die and dies anyway, dies willingly, knowing he could stop it, then… I mean, isn’t that the type of man you want to keep alive?’’ A tough decision. Maybe, for Harold (since he is going to die), it is also about ‘’seize the day!’’. He is living his life so controlled that he doesn’t really seem to enjoy it. Until the moment he lets the control all go.

This movie has a pretty standard hero story. Something happens to the hero (Harold Crick). He needs to go on an adventure to find out what is happening. He looks for someone to help him on his quest (Professor Hilbert). During his journey he changes. He falls in love with a beautiful woman (Ana Pascal, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal). He comes across obstacles and challenges. He finds out the problem. He sees he has to sacrifice himself in order to conquer the problem. But in the end he survives and a middle is found to solve the problem. And of course the love of his life is with him at the end of the movie. But the way in which this hero story is told is very original. I have never seen a story like this. This story brought me happy moments and brought me sad moments. It has various elements of drama in it and various elements of comedy.

This dramedy has some dramatic irony in it. Something that the character Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) also talked about. The dramatic irony keeps the audience engaged in the story. We already know what is going on. We, as an audience, would love to find out how the character is gonna find out what is wrong. The dramatic irony causes some hilarious moments. For example, the moment he hears the voice when he is brushing his teeth. He starts talking to his toothbrush because he thinks that’s where the voice comes from.

Will Ferrell did a great job. It must have been really fun to play this weird character, which seems the total opposite of Ferrell himself. Will did a good job in playing the controlled IRS agent of few words. He did it in a very believable way. If we would see a person in real life like Harold, we would find him insane and probably want to stay away from that person. But in this case we love to follow Crick in his life. Ferrell has a great feeling for timing, which makes Harold a very funny character.

Also Emma Thompson has proven (again) that she is a very good actress. I think she portrays Karen Eiffel, the writer with the writer’s block, in a very clever and funny way. Her acting for me seems so natural. I believe every word she is saying and I must give her credit for that. I think it is very easy to overact with this kind of character. She also did a great job narrating the story. Narrators can annoy me pretty easily, but she did not for a single moment.

I would say both the characters and the plot were equally solid in this movie. Both engage the audience every single second. They are on the same level. I have to say with both the story and the acting it would be easy to go over, but it was enough to make it hilarious and it was grounded enough to make you sad at times.

In order to see what is going on in Harold’s mind simulations were add. A nice little touch I think. It gives us this little bit of extra help to get into the world of Harold Crick. And that is what you want as a filmmaker, engage the audience in the world of the main character. Also the apartment Harold lives in is very small. While watching it, it gave me a claustrophobic feeling, which may represent Harold Cricks life. He is locked up in his own controlled cage.

All in all, a very strange story it was. But as poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said ‘’Willing suspension of disbelief’’. Despite the weird story, the plot and the acting was good enough to make you belief it as an audience. A story about sacrificing for one another and seizing the day! Stranger than Fiction.

Soraya Entrop, acting student

IAFT Cebu

IAFT Cebu

IAFT Cebu, Philippines is a film school that delivers an educational experience that reflects Hollywood roots and traditions. Founded in 2004, IAFT Cebu offers Certificate and Diploma programs in film , acting and 3D animation. Located in: One Hollywood Blvd
, Bigfoot I.T. and Media Park, Lapu-lapu City, Cebu, Philippines. Email: cebu-admissions@iaft.net, Contact Numbers: Globe/Viber: +63-917-314-3456 Smart: +63-947-991-9659 Phone: +63-32-495-2111