I really liked this movie, and I’m happy we got to see it in a real theater. It also helped me clarify what I didn’t like about that book I read recently, The Christmas Shoes. Both the movie and the book have basically the same message: enjoy every moment of your life and the people in it. But Stranger than Fiction has a quirky, unique way of getting the message across. (I was going to say it has a novel way of getting the message across, but I just couldn’t do it.)
Will Ferrell plays the serious guy for once, and he is really good: his character, Harold Crick, an IRS agent whose life is suddenly being narrated by a female voice only he can hear, is earnest, shy, tentative, his life dictated by his routines. The other actors are also very good. Emma Thompson is the chain-smoking novelist narrating Harold’s life; Dustin Hoffman is a literature professor (and while he wasn’t exactly like any of my literature professors, he brought back memories of my days as a Comparative Literature major); Maggie Gyllenhaal is the love-interest, who is delightfully anti-taxes, purposely paying only 78% of her income tax, because the other 22% goes for stuff she doesn’t support.
If you’re looking for a science-fiction type of explanation for what's happening to Harold, you’ll be disappointed. But I didn’t miss it. It was funny without being silly and stupid; touching to watch the awkward romantic advances of a (previously) boring IRS agent; thought-provoking and beautiful to watch, with nice cinematography and good music. I’d like to see it again.