Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Stranger Than Fiction


It’s rare that a film takes an interesting though totally impossible concept and runs with it all the way to the end, exploring all the possible consequences. Films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Adaptation come to mind (all three by Charlie Kaufman). Also, though not quite on the same level, Liar, Liar and 50 First Dates, though the latter is not an impossible concept. Maybe the best of them all is Groundhog Day, which reveals unexpected depths as it goes along. Then there’s Shallow Hal, which begins well but doesn’t fulfill its promise. This movie is not quite on the level of the best of the above, but it’s close. A man with basically no life at all begins hearing a narration of his life that no one else can hear. A novelist is trying to finish her book, needs to find a way to kill off her hero, which is the man who hears the narration. All sort of great possibilities arise, and this movie explores many of them.

The key to this sort of material, I believe, is to get you laughing at first at the absurdity of the situation, and Stranger Than Fiction does that very well. Will Ferrell’s subdued performance had us laughing every couple of minutes. Then you sneak in some real human feeling, and if it all works, you get really involved. Again, the film did that, too. I think it flubbed, just a tiny bit, at the end, but I don’t know how I would have ended it, either. I recommend it.