The other night I settled down with my sister to watch the Will Ferrell film Stranger Than Fiction. I first approached this film expecting a comedy along the lines of the Truman Show and I always find that the film surprises me with the hidden depths it holds within itself. The basic concept of a man who starts hearing a voice narrating his life, eventually discovering a famous author is writing a story about him, a story where he is due to die at the end is an interesting one, with some good thoughts.
The whole piece is very well acted with Will Ferrell playing the man slowly starting to find the joy of life, pushing out his boundaries and finding that there is more to life than the numbers which he bases everything on (these are really well represented at the start of the film with some rather subtle CG). The character he plays is also a nice guy and you do feel for him as he faces his plight, trying to find ways to break out of the cycle, but ultimately being swept along by the narration of the story.
I thought that Emma Thompson also provided a really good performance as the author of a book who is getting to the end of the story when suddenly one of her characters phones her up as she’s plotting his death. I thought that her performance was good as she struggled with the question of whether she could actually kill this man for the sake of her story. He confliction was well portrayed and I liked the relationships she had with other characters through the film.
Dustin Hoffman also has a fantastic turn as the literary professor that Will Ferrell turns to for help. Played very eccentric (a role type which Hoffman appears to excel in) this character really helps provide a third eye to the situation, the person who wants to help, but can also see the book that’s being written being the greatest book of the decade. He gets some fantastic comic moments as he tries to help identify what type of book is being written and who might be writing the book featuring Will Ferrell.
Overall it’s a very enjoyable process watching Will Ferrell’s character come out of his shell and really start to live, you feel for him as he faces his plight and searches for ways by which to avoid this. I enjoy the fact that every time I watch this I expect a comedy but it really makes me think and possibly look at the world in a slightly different way. It’s worth a look if you get a chance.