Monday, December 04, 2006

Review: Stranger Than Fiction


I went to see Stranger Than Fiction last week. This time of year when there are so many 'awards season' movies out, contenders for the big prizes, I find it hard to pick what to see - too overwhelming. But my friend and I arrived at the theatre without a specific movie in mind, so we just picked what was playing next - Stranger Than Fiction. I was a little wary of the movie because I'm not a huge Will Farrell fan. Ok, I laughed all through Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, but I was doubtful that he could pull of a serious role like this one.

Well, he pulled it off. I really enjoyed the movie. If you've seen the previews, you've seen the basic premise: Will Farrell plays a straight-laced man who finds that his life is being narrated by some voice, and the voice says his death is just around the corner. He tries to find the author and persuade her not to write his death, and in the process of his quest, he tries to live differently - in a way that the voice doesn't predict. The narration of his life makes him realize how mundane and unsatisfying his life has been so far.

Farrell was really excellent in the role. The film has many absurd qualities, and he fit right in as a person who plays absurd so often - but his role was definitely a huge change from his typical. The other actors were also great - Emma Thompson, who I think is one of the best actresses around, plays the author. Dustin Hoffman is excellent as a quirky professor Farrell goes to for advice. Maggie Gyllenhaal, another favorite, plays a woman Farrell audits (he's an IRS guy.) Queen Latifah's talents are unfortunately mostly wasted in a small, underused role as Thompson's assistant.

The film has a basic message of 'carpe diem - seize the day.' It isn't necessarily profound, but I guess like all such life lessons, we need to keep hearing it until we're living it. I can't remember where I read it recently - I think maybe in an article in Relevant magazine - an article that asked, "what are you waiting for until you really start you life?" I didn't say that well. What excuse do you keep putting out to yourself or to others that goes like this: "I'll get around to [the thing I'm really called to be doing/meant to be doing/passionate about/convicted about doing] as soon as [this other life thing happens/falls into place/gets settled.]" I'm very guilty of this. I'm very guilty of saying to myself that I'll start doing things the way I think I really should be after I get my PhD, or after I'm ordained (that excuse is no longer valid!), or even just after the new year. The point is - what are you waiting for? This is it already - this is your life. It has already started, is already well underway, and if you keep waiting for the perfect time to act, your life will be well over before you get anywhere.

Anyway, I'm trying to take that message a bit to heart, and trying to think about what I've been putting off that I know I should be attending to now. But maybe I'll start in the morning... :)

Update: For Andy B.'s more profound Christological view of the movie, read here.
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