“Harold Crick was a man of infinite numbers, endless calculations, and remarkably few words”.
Rudyard Kipling believed that “words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind” and it’s this thought-provoking sentiment that’s at the heart of Stranger Than Fiction. Zach Helm’s screenplay is unique and intelligent, boasting many mind-blowing similarities to Charlie Kaufman and Christopher Nolan. The most remarkable aspect of Helm’s narrative is that he treats the outlandish fantasy concept with such realism that it becomes easily accepted, allowing the central romance to take control.
At the centre of the narrative is a breathtaking performance from Will Ferrell who diverts from his usual, overtly brash comedy style and delivers the finest performance of his career. Even as a mild-mannered IRS auditor his comedic ability is apparent, but treated in a subdued manner. Little quirks and oddities make Harold Crick all the more loveable and memorable.
The ensemble support cast provide equally impressive performances with Dustin Hoffman as the literature expert hoping to resolve the seemingly schizophrenic IRS agent’s issues, Emma Thompson as a struggling author going to every length to alleviate her writer’s block and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the anarchist love interest with a penchant for baking.
The brilliantly crafted and sweet relationship between Harold and Ana ties the narrative together nicely. While their occupational lifestyles give justification for their meeting, it’s the opposition in terms of personalities that makes the development of the relationship all the more interesting. This is the sort of film the romantic-comedy genre should be associated with, not the multitude of humdrum, same-story genre pieces it unfortunately is.