“Little did he know…”
You don’t often get a movie that is truly original, yet at the same time very familiar. In many ways that’s the perfect balance that you strive for as a writer, to write something that no one has ever seen or thought of before, but that no one sits there watching scratching their head wondering what the hell is going on. So it is with Stranger Than Fiction.
Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is an average man. An auditor for the tax office, he leads a very dull, very organised life. His is an efficient world – one of numbers, time keeping, routine and unending loneliness – until one day one simple incident sets in motion a chain of events that will ultimately culminate in his death.
We know this, as does Harold Crick, because we and he can hear the writer narrating in his head.
I can’t really explain this film (nor would I if I could). Instead let me just mention one scene that really struck me when I first watched the movie. Harold is having dinner with a friend. He knows, thanks to the narrator, that he is going to die, but he doesn’t know how. He asks his friend, “If you knew you were going to die, what would you do?” His friend tells him, “Go to Space Camp.”
What struck me was, even though Harold is referring to his own imminent death, the question remains valid for each and every one of us. We are all going to die. Without exception. I guarantee it. So why don’t we act accordingly? Why don’t we chase our dreams every day with the same vigor as we would if we knew we only had six months to live? Why does it take a near death experience to shake us out of our apathy?
I watched this film tonight because the woman he becomes involved with in the movie – the gorgeous and incredibly sexy Maggie Gyllenhaal – is a baker, and the thought of jacking in the day job and opening up a bakery somewhere is very enticing to me at the moment. But so is becoming a writer, and teaching yoga. So which should I choose? Or do I have to choose?
Can I do it all? Maybe. Will I do it all? Maybe not. Will I kick myself up the arse enough to get out there and at least do some of it? God I hope so. I’m 37. In some lives, I’d be over half way by now. In others I would have died years ago. What’s the point of living if you don’t enjoy your life? And if you don’t change it now, then when?
This is a brilliant movie. Simple, clever, thought provoking, and very, very moving. I don’t mind admitting I cried a little at the end (and this is about the fourth time I’ve seen it too). It’s given me a great deal to think about before I go to bed tonight, and I think it will you too. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.