I recently watched Stranger than Fiction (Yes, it was been six years since this film came out. I like to watch movies way after they come out. Okay, it's not strictly purposeful; it just happens that way when you have kids, a job, [insert excuse for less free time here]. Although it's nice in a way, to come late to a film, as you don't have the wave of publicity distracting you from your actual impression of it. In fact, if you're like me, the distance from pop-culture means you have no idea what you're in for. Of course, I have varied from that trend when the stars align - i.e. babysitter and free time is available when desired movie is still in the theatre.). It stars Will Ferrell, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman (who, ohmygod is 75 years old. I am currently refusing to believe that, regardless of evidence to the contrary. He's still 20-year-old Ben in my eyes.) and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
On to the film:
It was funny, light, sweet, and yet... incredibly intense, somehow, all at once. I didn't want to move from my spot during watching.
The writing was so funny - Will Ferrell cracked me up continually - and yet...
--- if you haven't watched the film yet, the following will be a bit of a plot spoiler, so, consider yourself warned ---
Plot Synopsys: Famous serial fiction writer Karen Eiffel is suffering from writer's block. Chiefly, she can’t find the close of her story; ending the life of her main character, Harold Crick. Harold, it just so happens, is more than a character - he exists outside of her imagination and page; living his life, as narrated by her. How Harold's life unfolds - with order, routine, sameness - is predicated on how Karen writes the story - mostly. At essence; what happens to him is dictated by a greater force - and thus, he comes to believe the ending of his life may already told; destiny writ, like a puppet. Only, it isn't, and he isn't. He starts to break away from his routine, change up the sameness, tries to figure out whether his life is a comedy or a tragedy, discovers love, and who he really is, and begins to look for her (God). Upon meeting, each telling the other who he is; they find they are each, in their own way, searching for the right ending. Harold reads the ending of his story and lets her know that it's okay for her to dictate how his life will end:
"I read it and I loved it and there's only one way it can end."
Only... she doesn't agree.
Because, you see, life just isn't like that.
As Karen varies from her path of killing off her hero, she shines a light on the importance of the time we spend alive; how we shape our lives, and what we choose to do in our day-to-day - matters:
"Sometimes when we lose ourselves in fear & despair, in routine & constancy, in hopelessness & tragedy... we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture or a subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort...
and we must remember that all these things: the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties which we assume only accessorize our days are in fact here for a much larger & nobler cause: they are here to save our lives."
I took away from the film that our lives aren't already written, no matter how much it might feel that they are. Our destinies aren't sealed, and no one is pulling all the strings. If we want to effect change on our path, we can. In fact, the path our life story takes is perhaps far more important than the ending or where we might go when our story is complete.
This film is sweet, funny, and definitely worth a watch. I loved the chemistry between the characters - all of them, interwoven and complex in their own rights. If for no other reason, you should see this so I won't be the only one who is stunned by how young Dustin Hoffman looks (gratuitous photo of Ben in The Graduate).