‘Fiction’ analyzes the world as a stage

Emily Bearg

Sometimes life is so dramatic and poetic it may seem as if we are the main characters of a novel written by a best-selling novelist who likes to include plot twists, love interests and … imminent death? So maybe our lives haven’t taken a turn for the worst yet, but the newly-released DVD “Stranger than Fiction” depicts just that story of one man’s journey to live life as a comedy instead of a tragedy.

When Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) begins to hear a narrator relaying his every compulsive and habitual move as an IRS agent, he discovers he is the protagonist in famous author Karen Eiffel’s (Emma Thompson) first book out of writer’s block in ten years. As Eiffel, who is known for killing off her main characters, unknowingly begins to determine Crick’s fate, he seeks help from literary theorist Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) who tells him that the best way to change his destiny is to fall in love with someone who hates him.

Crick begins to overcome his habits that have calculated every minute of his every day and meets the unconventional Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), but little does he know his fate may be unchangeable, only able to be altered by Eiffel in her moments of despair.

Ferrell, fresh from “Talladega Nights,” “Bewitched” and “Elf,” shows his flexible acting talents and is winningly boyish and vulnerable in the dark comedy. Just as believable are Thompson as the struggling writer and Gyllenhaal as the free-spirited baker and IRS delinquent. However, I most enjoyed Hoffman as the overly analytical professor who delves into his dusty books and literary knowledge to “help” Crick change his fate.

In a drama that’s so witty and well-written, I suggest viewers give the movie their full attention and prepare for some serious new ways of envisioning one’s own future. What can be more poetic than an ending starting off right where it began?