Marc Forster
(Copyright © 1999-2024 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

, /10

Marc Forster

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) is an inverted thriller that straddles the border between comedy and tragedy. It basically talks about itself. Alas, it is given a silly happy ending, although even that mediocre ending is mirrored inside the plot of the movie (the book being written is given a mediocre ending, although for different reasons).

Harold is a very efficient employee of the tax agency, whose life is regulated by his wrist watch. While he repeats his daily routine, one day a totally unrelated boy receives a gift by his parents: a bicycle. While Harold is brushing his teeth, he hears a female voice narrate his act of brushing his teeth. The voice starts following him, and keeps narrating what he is doing and how his life is (dull). At work he is absent-minded, for the first time in his career. He is assigned the case of a cute baker, who has not paid her taxes in full. Pascale shows all her contempt for Harold's lousy job.
The narrating voice is the voice of a famous writer, who is afflicted by writer's block: she cannot find the way to "kill" the character of her new novel. She is getting neurotic about it. Harold hears her say that he is about to die, but she does not say when or where or how (because she has not figured it out yet). Harold is terrified and, realizing that this must be related to literature, asks a professor of literature for advice. The professor is clueless, of course. He is only interested in the fact that it is not clear if the novel that Harold is part of is a comedy or a tragedy, and Harold himself starts wondering whether his life (including this mysterious voice) is comedy or tragedy.
Harold begins to realize that his life is indeed dull and pointless. He falls in love with the irreverent and lively baker, who reciprocates. The voice has given him a life and a girlfriend. But he is still obsessed that the same voice has predicted his imminent death.
During another visit at the professor's college, Harold hears the voice come from a tv set and sees the woman with that voice. The professor recognizes her as a distinguished writer. Harold finally knows her name and tracks her down. He explains what is happening to him and begs her not to kill him. The writer is terrified too: maybe all of the characters that she killed in her previous books were real people who died for real.
The professor thinks that Harold should simply accept his destiny: the writer's novel is more important (in the grand scheme of things) than his mediocre life. Harold himself, after reading the novel, comes to agree and is willing to accept his destiny. He has a last dinner with Pascale, knowing that he is about to die. The following morning the wrist watch is a few minutes off (for the first time in his life) and this causes him to be at the wrong place at the wrong time: the child on the brand new bicycle runs in front of a bus, and Harold jumps to save him, but is hit by the bus.
He does not die though. The writer changed the ending so that he is merely wounded. Pascale takes care of her hero at the hospital. The writer visits the professor and lets him read the ending. The professor thinks it is ok, although not a masterpiece anymore. Harold was saved by the wrist watch: a piece of the wrist watch got stuck in his body and stopped an artery from bleeding to death.
(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
What is unique about this cinema database