“Stranger Than Fiction” Review — Anna Southwell


Karen Eiffel types a sentence into her typewriter.

Harold Crick does that action, under the power of her authorship and living his simple life of mundane routine. He brushes his teeth with an exact number of strokes, and counts his exact number of steps. He lives by the ticking of his watch.

At first, Harold Crick seems to be a robotic representation and shell of a human. Or is he a real person?

This screenplay and film, “Stranger Than Fiction,” impressed me with the way it presented this enigma of a character as static and flat, living a life of repetition and dull routine, but gradually uncovered the multi-faceted and complex layers of him. Harold Crick seems boring and simple at first, but he is revealed to be a very dynamic character with emotions and a vibrant personality as he falls in love with Ana and wishes to live a normal life and escape the fate of Karen Eiffel’s plot of her book.

And played by Will Ferrell, usually in very different and entirely comedic roles? Loved it! I was struck by how much I enjoyed him playing this type of character, and his character development was very realistic yet creative — he is a real person yet a book character at the same time, and this comes across successfully in both the film and screenplay.

As Harold Crick transitioned from a life of dull repetition to a complex life of human emotions, relationships, and goals, the story beautifully portrayed his transformation from a book character into a human as Karen Eiffel gets closer and closer to writing out his death.

After his near-death encounter as Eiffel gives him mercy when she realized that someone’s life was more important than a plot-line, he has a piece of a watch stuck in his wrist from getting hit by a car. This symbolism was clever and meaningful because it represented the change in his character as a whole. I interpreted the piece of watch stuck in his wrist as a remainder of his “character” form in the book, but he has become a regular human being. The watch no longer consumes him, but it is still a part of him. I thought this was an interesting detail in the film and screenplay. As we discussed in class, I did think the medical explanation of the danger of the watch piece in his wrist didn’t make sense to me either and it came across to me as an error as well — the medical explanation that taking it out of his wrist was too dangerous wouldn’t make sense in the real medical world. But other than that, I thought it was a great detail to the conclusion of the story.

However, especially in terms of the film, I wanted to see more of the aftermath of Karen Eiffel after she decided to rewrite the ending to allow Harold to live — I wanted to see more of how she ended up, if she was happier and less depressed, if she managed to turn her life around. I would have appreciated that closure to her character and an end on a more positive note.

But all in all, I very much enjoyed the story of “Stranger Than Fiction,” both the screenplay and the movie. Although there were some minor disparities between the two forms, I thought the film producers did a great job of translating the story to cinema.

It was funny, charming, light-hearted, but also meaningful, symbolic, and literary in its details and layers, and I especially enjoyed the quirky and unexpected relationship between Ana and Harold. It seems that Ana grew to like Harold more as he acted more and more “human” and less like a repetitive, robotic character that only cared about his job at the IRS. The more he showed emotions and his personality, the more she appreciated him, which was very realistic — it wasn’t “instant-love” which I appreciated. Although Ana came across as much more “normal” in the film and less political with a “punk-rock” personality as she was in the screenplay, which was slightly disappointing, I still very much enjoyed her character and the amusing dynamic between her and Harold in the film.

This is one of my favorite assignments of the semester so far!

Overall rating for both the screenplay and film: 9/10.