Friday, January 26, 2007
Stranger than Fiction
No Oscar nominations for this film. D. and I went to see it at the local second run theatre down the hill (isn't everything down the hill now?). It's a great theatre by the way. It was a great film as well. I really enjoyed the film as a story and in the way it made me think about how story is shaped and how it shapes itself.
I can't help but think of A. Buchbinder's idea that a "story is a living thing." This film is an example of how this is so. A woman is writing a novel while facing "writer's block." She's quite desperate to find a way to unblock herself as she searches for the method to kill off her main character. She knows he must die, but how? As the film demonstrates, the story will offer the right path if you listen to what it is telling you. Wonderfully, in this film the novel being written really is a living thing.
The main character, Harold Crick, exists and comes to realize that he is part of a narrative when he hears a narrators voice describing him and his actions. After disagreeing with the diagnosis that he's schizophrenic, he seeks the advice of a Literary scholar and the plot unfolds from there (or as in one point of the film, Harold forces himself to do nothing to see if the plot will come to him). Harold journey is to determine what type of character he is in the story, what type of story it is and ultimately can he change the outcome of the story? In his search for answers Harold uncovers who he really is and is able to experience life in a a new way.
Most entertaining for me was the question raised if Harold is in a comedy or tragedy. Not only does the character have to figure out what type of story he is living, but as the viewer we can also ask ourselves what type of story is this and does it fulfill the generic expections? This is where the writer (the writer of the film that is) plays again and successfully demonstrates that there can be a fine line between tragedy and comedy. Perhaps something similar is going on when we are able to laugh hysterically or sob with as much emotion. For the film it fluctuates between both, but has definite comedic leanings because it remains fairly light. Ultimately, on a more universal level, the film seems to say that we are not fully living if we do not let ourselves take risks. We must experience both the comedic and tragic aspects of life.
This film is definitely worth seeing. I know it's the time of year to rush out and try and see as many of the Oscar nominated films as possible (if you missed any or all), but I'd say skip one or two and try and see this while it's still in cinemas. I'm glad we did.