Stranger than Fiction?
I think I now have a new "favorite movie/screenplay". It, at least, has to share that spot with "Groundhog Day" in my profile here. I just can't stop thinking about it. We saw it yesterday, the first day it was released...how addicted are we? "Stranger than Fiction" with Will Ferrell just looked like our kind of movie from all the ads on TV.
Besides an all-star cast ie. Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and ___ Gillingham, all with outstanding performances, there is this very tight and inclusive screenplay. I took a class on writing screenplays and I know how hard it is. There is also the appeal for the fiction/non-fiction prose writer like me...potentially me. Who knows? "Little did he know"...(one of the plot turns in the movie) There is the question there for all of us, "Will my life be a comedy or a tragedy?" There also is the "narration factor". Will and Emma play it beautifully.
I've known someone now for years who "narrates" her life. I tease her about it but it seems to have kept her "sane" so far. She, my wife, grew up mostly alone and just got in the habit of talking to herself...aloud. I actually think we all do it to some degree...just not out loud. It is part of our consciousness. ie. thinking of what we are going to do next or should do next and then how we fell about it. Will's problem is that Emma is doing that for him with a "better vocabulary" It would drive anyone nuts especially if they are trying to see themselves as the "hero/ine" of their own life like the Dickensian "David Copperfield". What decisions and follow-up actions does one have to do to become that "main character" in such a personal novel?
It has to go back to the Greeks and their mythology. The basic definitions of "Comedy" and "Tragedy" are from them. We see it again in Shakespeare for the stage. "Having a life that rises from low to high estate" = "Comedy" and the opposite: "Having a life that fall from high to low estate" = "Tragedy" Fate...some say is what causes it all. Others, me included, say that your positive thoughts preceed your positive actions and determine your "fate" or not.(also called planning) Dustin's character, a literature professor, asked Will, "Harold Crick" to just stay home and "do nothing". That was very hard for him to do, but he did cease hearing the narrative voice. That may be an option for some of us...but it can't be for long.
It all gets real interesting when he starts to fall in love with his next "auditee" (he's an IRS Auditor). She, Gillenhall, starts to make him think differently and not just always about himself. It is such a heart-warming love story.
Of course there are all kinds of parallels that can be drawn between the "writer's blocked" character, Emma, and say...one's concept of god or some supreme being that predestines all our lives. Then there is the surprise twist at the end that just makes you think about your own life in it's "latter years". How will mine end? Will it be tragic? Will I see it coming? What can I do about it, if anything, as it approaches?
I dug the "graphics" of the movie and the "wristwatch" as a "vehicle" of fate. Time continues to be our modus operendi and eventually our "executioner"...but maybe not for "Harold". Oh, how we would all like to escape the "time-n-ator"...and its effects. Any thoughts or ideas on how we could? Bob!