Sunday, 3 July 2011

Film Review - Stranger Than Fiction

Release: 2006
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman

I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this film before I watched it today, as it seems straight up my street for quirky and original ideas. Will Ferrell is an IRS auditor with strict OCD-ish routines. One morning he wakes up and hears his life being narrated by Emma Thompson. Naturally he is a bit disturbed by this, and the early part of the film is quite funny as he tries asking strangers if they just heard the voice describing what he just did. A psychiatrist tells him flat out, "It's schizophrenia... You're hearing a voice. That's schizophrenia". "It's not telling me to do things. It's just describing what I'm doing. In really good English"

Ferrell tracks down Dustin Hoffman, a professor of English, who helps him work out that he is in a literary narrative. He just has to work out what kind. There's a great scene where Hoffman has prepared a questionnaire to work out what type of literary character he is, "Are you compelled to solve murders? Perhaps in a large stately home that you may or may not have been invited to?". Finally he narrows it down to either being in a comedy or a tragedy. If it's a comedy, he will meet a girl who will hate him and eventually they'll fall in love and be together. If it's a tragedy, the story will end with his death.

Wow. Not where I was expecting this film to go. Despite it's quite serious subject matter of life and death, it deals with "living life" beautifully, and Ferrell has a very sensitive role in the film that is so unlike his usual roles. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays his love interest. A tattooed, bakery owner who Ferrell has been made to audit.

The ending was touching. I really wasn't sure how the last half hour was going to go, which is always a welcome experience given how few new ideas there are nowadays.

Thumbs up for a very original, interesting story. I'd certainly recommend it.


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