I love metafiction when done correctly, and Stranger Than Fiction is a prime example of metafiction delivered well.
Metafiction is when the story has some element that is acutely aware it is a story or else there may be a work of fiction within the work of fiction; in other words, it goes beyond the normal structure and style of traditional fiction into some experimental realm. When executed soundly, metafiction can be thought provoking and illuminating. When delivered poorly, it can seem gimmicky and amateurish.
I’m happy to report that Stranger Than Fiction is absolutely a work of art and a success. In this film, Will Ferrel plays an IRS auditor named Harold Crick who begins to hear someone narrating his very life. He eventually realizes that he is the character in someone’s story and this someone is planning to kill him off at the end. Harold soon meets his author and tries to talk her out of killing him, but only after growing into a person he always wanted to be. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but let me say that I wanted Harold to live so desperately that I couldn’t stand it, yet I also knew that his death would be the death most of us would want (if not by old age, of course).
This all doesn’t sound like a work of art, does it? Trust me when I say it is. Unlike Jim Carrey’s many attempts, Will Ferrel skillfully pulls of a sensitive and understated role. You literally care about this man, and it is purely by Ferrel’s unassuming acting. I don’t want Ferrel to give up comedy, but it is nice to know can he play a role like this. There was a depth in his eyes I previously didn’t think existed.
This movie had me laughing as much as it had me fighting back tears, and I’m not a crier. I was most pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this movie. I strongly suggest you check it out.
On a side note, I bought the soundtrack to this film some weeks ago after hearing it was awesome. I didn’t care for it at the time, but now that I have the actual movie to associate with it, I love it! Isn’t that strange?