‘Stranger’ remains a great RomCom

Stephanie, Cobb

Monotonous: this is the best adjective to describe IRS Agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), who leads a meticulous life incorporating counting into his daily routine in “Stranger than Fiction.” One day, he hears the accented voice of a woman narrating his every move. Shocked, Crick is horrified to learn the actions she predicts him to take come true. Since he fears for his sanity, Mr. Crick consults Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), who attempts to help him discover the cause of the voice. To make matters worse, Mr. Crick’s world is turned upside down when he begins to fall in love with baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who purposefully withholds money from the IRS. In a parallel plot, tortured author, Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson), works on her new book, starring a character coincidentally named Howard Crick. Mr. Crick tries to overcome the looming uncertainty of the woman’s voice and the forbidden feelings he develops for Ms. Pascal.

The acting in the movie primarily revolves around the specific actors. Will Ferrell is particularly expressive, but his previous comedy-based work, such as “Elf” and “The Office,” makes it difficult to take him seriously during deep emotional moments. Gyllenhaal brings the movie down, playing fiery Ms. Pascal. Gyllenhaal fails to express any emotion when she is not displaying strong emotion. At one point, Mr. Crick apologizes to Ms. Pascal and she simply nods and looks down, saying she accepts his apology in a sort of bored, emotionless tone. This makes her character appear unbelievable.

The story moves fairly quickly with the main conflict between Mr. Crick and the mysterious voice revealed minutes into the film. The introduction is quite lengthy, as Mr. Crick tries to ignore the voice for about ten minutes. Following this, the pace picks up relatively quickly, with Mr. Crick encountering Ms. Pascal outside of his job.

The movie has a bit of everything in it, making it a perfect choice for a Valentine’s Day couple. The jokes in the film are based primarily on sarcastic tone and adult themes. For example, when Crick stares at Ms. Pascal’s breast, she blatantly asks if he is staring at her “tits.” However, the movie appeals to both men and women. The comedy lightens the heavy plot, appealing to men, while as the movie progresses, more romantic sides of the movie appear, appealing to women.

Camera angles are creative in this movie. The director uses a lot of cutting from face to face when an emotional moment or conflict comes up. Hearing the voice for the first time, Crick brushes his teeth with the camera going back and forth between his reflection and close-up of his face. However, the angles are repetitive since three angles are primarily used: sideway, looking down, and face close-up.

The storyline itself was well-written. It takes a twist on the typical plot line of a man overcoming obstacles, but instead of having a smooth resolution, Crick must face more trials. The film has spectacular scriptwriting with the writers throwing in a few humorous lines to lighten up the seriousness of the story. For example, when Mr. Crick’s actions are narrated, she mentions “a fresh batch of mucus” to lighten up a serious phone call.

In conclusion, the movie takes a modern twist on a typical love story, adding comedy, drama and action. The film has a few flat actors, but overall, the film is great for couples who want to watch a hilarious love story.