Stranger Than Fiction

I watched Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction a couple of nights ago, probably the first time I can remember Ferrell in a role other than "overgrown fratboy" - indeed, here he plays an IRS auditor, so he's very much the epitome of the straight man here. It pleasantly surprised me that he held his own acting against Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal (who, incidentally, I'm convinced has one of the sexiest voices in Hollywood).

Stranger Than Fiction asked thought-provoking questions on mortality, and the value of accepting the inexorable progress toward death - in the grand scheme of things, of course, we will all die (and Hoffman points that out), and what we leave behind as our legacy, I suppose, is our art. (A concept that made me think of Shelley's "Ozymandias".) But what happens when ars longa becomes the direct cause of vita breva? Thompson, playing the author Karen Eiffel, finally seems to be ending her struggle with writer's block by coming up with a way to kill her lead character, the generally average Harold Crick (Ferrell). Except that Crick's a real-life person, capable of real love (played by Gyllenhaal, subject of an acrimonious audit and later object of amorous affection).

How much do we accept the inevitability of death? How much will we sacrifice for art? And how do we lead a life that seems to have a mix of free will and predestination?


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