Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I thought STRANGER THAN FICTION was a really good film. It's got great performances, it's well crafted, and it ultimately all comes together.... But I still found myself wanting just a little bit more out of this movie in the end.

There were two things in particular that I think could have been done with STANGER THAN FICTION to turn it into a really incredible and significant film. The first, is the differentiation between the real world (the world of the author) and the fictional world (the world that Harold's living in). In this movie, there doesn't seem to be any clear-cut differentiation whatsoever. It's like; the filmmakers set up this gimmick of, "he's a fictional character," and then didn't really do very much with it. The only two things that present Harold as a fictitious character are the numbers that pop up on screen occasionally, and the narration, which was somewhat sporadic and inconsistent as well. Coming from the director of FINDING NEVERLAND, a movie that does an incredible job of establishing fantasy realms, I definitely expected more.

I actually thought Emma Thomson's "world" was, in some ways, more imaginative and playful than Harold's.... At least with her world we got to see all those dark fantasy sequences of her imagining terrible death scenes for her novel. Personally, I would have really liked to have seen some of those scenes get played out in Harold's world, so he's actually enduring those near death experiences and then cursing Emma Thompson's character for coming up with them.

But this brings me to my second issue with STRANGER THAN FICTION... For the most part, we never get a clear idea of what is or isn't written by Emma Thompson's character. I kept waiting for this film to become a story within a story. For some acknowledgement that Thompson's novel was about a fictional man who can hear his narrator. That her book essentially WAS "Stranger Than Fiction." And I kept waiting for some hint that the author had inserted herself as a character within her book, and that the Emma Thompson we were seeing on screen was fictitious as well.

But that never came. The movie never really touches upon any of this. It seemed to me that Harold Crick being able to hear his narrator was some sort of magical, unexplainable rip in the time space continuum or something, and was completely independent of what Thompson was writing in her novel. Now, I know Dustin Hoffman said that her book was a masterpiece and all, but from what I could gather, the only things she actually wrote about were how boring Harold's life was, that he had met a girl, and that he was going to die soon. Seemed kind of lame in my opinion. And I certainly didn't see how Harold getting hit by a bus was pure poetic genius!

I don't know... but for a movie that seemed to put so much emphasis on the idea of a fictional man's fate being in the hands of his author, I didn't feel that STRANGER THAN FICTION took a strong enough stance in establishing who or what actually had control of the events unraveling within this film.

What do you guys think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Adam.

Your sense of lacking in STF seems very accurate.

Compare, for example, "Being John Malkovich." John Malkovich does a an excellent job of getting across "voices in the head" because he does not idiotically "hear" things, rather, he has a feeling as if trying to remember something, and then his thoughts ALMOST organically move to those being abnormally formed in his mind.

The script seems faulty; Would an accountant ever yell into the sky, no matter how severe the psychosis, i.e "voices" in the head? No. The idea of psychosis is misunderstood, or made flat in STF, and the slots where thoughts occur in his head are wasted on banalities. The "voices" sections should have been worked on until they could create their own unique micro lense of thought. And we should have seen the author hammering out these lines, and "discovering" something interesting.

In short, STF lacks understanding, and use of, the fascinating meanings and subtle nature of mental disfunctions such as psychosis.

Also, as a personal note of discovery, would it be fair to say Christina Ricci can play such astoundingly delicate characters as Wendy Hood, and Layla in B66, because of a certain lefthandedness in her heart? I may be just looking at the work of hollywood effects, but if you know I would appreciate your insight.

Thank you for your site, and if you might be able to answer my query I would be very grateful.