Watched Jul 10, 2012
Mackenzie Snow’s review:
One of the best films I've ever seen, with the quirkiest of stories from one of the best original scripts in the last decade, that warms me to the bones.
With a surprisingly sympathetic turn from Will Ferrell, Harold Crick becomes a character whom I described as "anti-Amelie". His life is being a narrated but instead of living a charming life like Amelie Poulain does, he lives one of perpetual blandness. At least, at first. Then Maggie Gyllenhaal appears in his life and while that doesn't get him any closer to Amelie-level of brightness, he at least stops being depressing.
Gyllenhaal is not my favorite actress, never has been and I suspect never will. She is merely tolerable in Stranger Than Fiction because her character bakes cookies and falls in love with Crick. However, I have to admit that I could not imagine any other actress to play Ana Pascal.
On the other side of the narrative spectrum, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah play yet another mismatched pairing that somehow make it work between them. Karen Eiffel's is not Thompson's biggest or most famous roles, but this is one I like best because I don't get to see her enough as a somber novelist with a writer's block.
The music and the set design are the main highlights of this film for me, particularly because they were subtle and supported the story, instead of being mere accessories. Everything - from Karen's apartment to Ana's shop and Harold's cubicle - was understated but seemed to underline each character's personality and the events they go through. Although a little bit polished or perhaps even over-stylized (I don't believe tax offices look that clinical--but that's just me), they all just fit. Director Marc Forster has a particular style that handles all of these elements elegantly, creating a movie that American filmmakers can rarely achieve.
Sweet, thought-provoking and intelligent, Stranger Than Fiction proves that there is no need for extravagance to make a movie wonderful.