Stranger Than Fiction (12A)



Comedy (2006)
112mins US

Starring: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson
Director: Marc Forster
Writer(s): Zach Helm
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Lonely auditor Harold Crick becomes infuriated with a voice in his head, which seems to be narrating his life, from the number of times he brushes his teeth to the pace he walks to meet the bus every morning. Seeking outside help, Harold begins therapy sessions with literature professor Dr Jules Hilbert and together they discover than Harold is a fictitious character in a story being written by renowned novelist Kay Eiffel, who has a nasty habit of killing off her protagonists.

Seen that movie? Leave a comment / review here >>

LondonNet Film Review

Stranger Than Fiction

The annals of literature are littered with unforgettable and often tragically flawed characters: Holden Caulfield, Othello, Atticus Finch, Elizabeth Bennett, Othello, Scarlett O'Hara, Ahab,... Harold Crick...

Will Ferrell and Dustin Hoffman in Stranger Than Fiction. Sony Pictures Releasing

Who? Lonely Internal Revenue Service agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is the central figure in as an as-yet-unfinished novel about love and death in contemporary America... except he doesn't know it.

Every subtlety of Harold humdrum existence, from the number of times he brushes his teeth to the pace he walks to meet the bus, are details conjured on the page by renowned novelist Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson).

Harold first realizes that something is curiously off-kilter with his reality when he begins to hear a female voice in his head, commentating on his every action. "Harold suddenly found himself beleaguered and exasperated... cursing the heavens in futility," intones the narrator. "No I'm not! I'm cursing you, you stupid voice! So shut up and leave me alone!" screams Harold. Except the mysterious voice won't shut up, eventually confiding that events have been set in motion which will lead to Harold's imminent death.

When psychiatrist Dr Mittag-Leffler (Linda Hunt) fails to cure the problem, Harold seeks counsel from literature professor Dr Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), who proposes they should work out whether the auditor is a character in a tragedy or a comedy. Harold isn't sure, but a burgeoning romance with feisty bakery owner Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal) suggests the latter.

Meanwhile, Kay, who has no idea that her protagonist is flesh and blood, is crippled with writer's block. Her publishers dispatch assistant Penny Escher (Queen Latifah) to clear Karen's mental blockage. "I do not like loud music. I do not abide narcotics. And I will gladly and quietly help you kill Harold Crick," proudly states Penny. His days seem numbered.

With echoes of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, Marc Forster's surreal comedy is an ingenious and unexpectedly touching account of a middle-aged man's rebirth at the very moment life is about to be cruelly snatched from him. Screenwriter Zach Helm accomplishes the tricky central narrative conceit with elan, putting poor Harold through the emotional wringer as he seeks a rational explanation for his predicament.

Ferrell tugs the heartstrings as the doomed everyman, delivering a beautifully nuanced performance in stark contrast to his boisterous, over-the-top comic turns in Anchorman and Talladega Nights. Screen chemistry smolders with Gyllenhaal, who is simply adorable as the culinary maestro who "just figured if I was going to make the world a better place, I was going to do it with cookies." Thompson is equally impressive as a writer wrestling with her own demons and there is strong support from Hoffman and Latifah.

The pacing is perfect, reaching a breathtaking crescendo when Kay makes the agonizing decision whether Harold will be the first character in her celebrated novels to survive until the final page.

- Heather Von Bourne


London Cinemas

From Friday 26th February
To Thursday 3rd March

Not showing at any
London cinemas this week.
From Friday 4th March
To Thursday 10th March

Not showing at any
London cinemas this week.


« Back to Index

Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

Listed in alphabetical order by city/place name followed by cinema name.

From Friday 26th February
To Thursday 3rd March

Not showing at any
UK cinemas this week.
From Friday 4th March
To Thursday 10th March

- Dublin, Vue Dublin


« Back to Index