Stranger Than Fiction
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Will Ferrell stars as Harold Crick, a lonely IRS agent whose mundane existence is transformed when he hears a mysterious voice narrating his life. With the help of Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), Harold discovers he's the main character in a novel-in-progress and that the voice belongs to Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson), an eccentric author famous for killing her main characters in creative ways. Harold must quickly track down Eiffel and stop her before she conjures up a way to finish him off.
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The story is unique, yet makes delightful literary references to the standard tropes and pays homage to what has come before. The writing is lyrical, witty, honest, and full of dry humor, leaving me with an intense desire to read the books by the character Karen Eiffel. Overall, this is the best written movie I have ever seen due to the imagery in the words matching the imagery in the visual medium in a magical way that transports the viewer into the movie the way a great book transports the reader into the world, the wonderfully handled inherent awkwardness of the concept of the fantastical intruding on the ordinary, and the dialog that has you crying from laughing so hard and crying from the tragedy of the sacrifice.
The music is perfect at emphasizing the moments of love, awkwardness, joy, discovery, sacrifice, and heartbreak. You know that it's a good soundtrack when you don't even notice the music because it helps heighten the emotions of the scene rather than distract from them.
The special effects are impeccably done to highlight the story and the characters, helping to establish the underlying nature of the main character's neurotic counting as well as instilling a sense of whimsy, as seen in the subtle shifting of the clouds behind Harold in the HR office as he thinks about Ana. It's easy to suspend disbelief in this movie because all of the characters feel like real people, so even though the core concept is fantastical, it feels plausible.
If you liked Punch Drunk Love, you'll love Stranger Than Fiction. It's the best movie since Shawshank Redemption, hands down. Visually compelling and brilliantly acted by Will Farrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman, STF takes a quirky, "insider" look at the connection between fate and free will. While sometimes a bit too "on the nose", the subtext and interweaving story lines are enough to keep impatient viewers thinking and emotionally invested in the characters from start to finish. Contrary to the marketing behind the film, this is not a typical Will Farrell comedy. As a matter of fact, it's hardly a comedy at all, although there are many funny moments. The studio tried to market this film as Will Farrell's follow up to Old School, which it was absolutely not. This left Farrell fans confused and disappointed rather than excited at the prospect that Will Farrell can actually excel in the lead role of a dramatic film. I've read critical reviews of the movie who complained that the movie wasn't funny, and didn't know whether or not it was a comedy or a drama. I think those critics missed the point completely. It's a great movie that addresses a very serious subject matter in a creative, light-hearted manner, while remaining thought-provoking and intellectually resolute in its "quest" to demonstrate that sometimes fate can be greater than free will.
It's crazy but insightful, and also has great actors like Dustin Hoffman, Will Ferrell (whom I normally don't really like but the perfect person for this film), and Emma Thompson who is great!