Have you seen Stranger than Fiction?

I saw this Will Farrel movie this weekend and liked it alot. I felt that the writer had to be a Christian and the movie had a strong if camoflaged christian flavor.
However, I have found no reviews that seem to see this. Did anyone else see anything in this film?
I couldn’t quite figure out what the watch was supposed to represent.
Anyone?

My daughter, a theater professional, loves this movie. I’ll see if I can get her to post her review.

I’m not sure the watch “represented” anything.

I watched this movie on a plane flight, while sitting beside an ex-Catholic woman who had basically given up on Christianity. It was a great “witnessing opportunity” because she watched the movie as well, and I explained that seeing God as an author was a common Christian metaphor. Also, the hero’s decision at the end is in a sense like Christ’s death–he accepts death in order to make the story a life-affirming one. It’s not a perfect analogy, of course. But some very Christian metaphors do seem to be bubbling around there. I thought it was one of the best recent movies I’ve seen (though admittedly I haven’t got out much in the past few years).

Edwin

Cat,
Thanks I would love to see that.

Contarini,
When I saw the film my hunch was that the screenplay was probably based on a novel that was written by a christian. And modified by the screenwriter. What I found was that the story was written as a movie screenplay by Zach Helm.
I have not yet obtained enough on this writer to provide evidence one way or another. Clearly there are some morality problems with some aspects of the film,

I really liked how Harold tried to do nothing in an attempt to discern the voice only to have a castastrophic event he could not ignore.
How Harold is a tax collector
How Harold had no clue that he wasn’t really living untill he started hearing the authors voice.
How the considerations for Harolds death go from suicide to more alruistic as Harold increases his acting upon the authors voice.
How Hoffman’s character after reading the manuscript calls it a masterpiece and that Harold must die the way she wrote.
How the author broke down when she killed Harold.

Any way, I am just wondering if I am reading to much into the film.

Thanks again,
Jim

USCCB Rating: III – adults

“Pondering God’s infinite knowledge, the psalmist writes in Psalm 139, “Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written,” a verse that seems particularly apropos when watching the delightfully quirky dramatic comedy “Stranger Than Fiction” (Columbia), in which Will Ferrell falls subject to a less lofty omniscience…”

Full Review here.

Aww I loved this movie

:Get Bent Tax Man !!!

I loved stranger than fiction. I think the really great part is that the main character accepts his fate in order to save a life.

Yes, this was a movie worth watching more than once. Very thought provoking. Reminded me of The Butterfly Effect, though more uplilfting.
If only people didn’t feel it necessary to fall into bed right after the first kiss . . .

Any way, I am just wondering if I am reading to much into the film.

Thanks again,
Jim

Jim – you are absolutely not reading too much into it!

I too loved this movie. I went to see it on a day I was feeling particularly stressed from work and pretty depressed because of the dull Michigan winter weather. I left the movie in happy tears, with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. There aren’t any spoilers in this post, so it’s safe to read!

In terms of production elements (A film critic I am not – these are just my opinion!)

I thought the performances were stellar. You really can’t keep better company than Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman. And I also was pleased to see Will Ferrell in something that truly showcased his amazing talent as an actor (and, I’ve suspected all along, since I first saw him on Saturday Night Live, that he is a Christian. I know some of you might disagree with me, but look at how he conducts himself in his every day life as compared to other film stars and celebrities. He never gives anyone reason to doubt his honesty and integrity and has anyone ever noticed that the projects he chooses to take on always seem to deal with ideas of creation/fall/redemption? Maybe this is my Christian reformed teaching coming into play here!). I thought Maggie Gyllenhall was absolutely sweet as the love interest, and it was good to see Queen Latifah back on the big screen after several bummer projects. I haven’t enjoyed her this much in anything since “Sphere” several years ago.

The cinematography and the film style were brilliant. I loved the way they used the “line drawing” to help tell the story. It helped me as an audience member to feel like I was truly inside Harold’s mind as he was hearing this voice map out his life. I also really like the soundtrack - in fact many of the songs are on my running playlist to help keep me motivated!

Now as to the themes:

How often do we refer to God as “the author of our lives?” Thompson’s character (the author, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie) had turned into a recluse – much beloved by her fans, but had gone into hiding and hadn’t published anything new in several years. How often do we feel like this is what God does to us? We go into our closets and cry out, “Where are you God? Why don’t you answer me?” How often does God seem so silent…and then (as with Harold)…suddenly, and without warning, we hear His voice again, directing and guiding our lives? How often does His will seem impossible; too difficult a task to surmount, like Harold’s end was to be met? Like Harold, how many of us want to run to Him, find Him, and tell Him, “No! Don’t do this! I don’t want this to be my life!” But, like Harold, in the end we know there is only one thing to do, and that is resign ourselves to God’s will, however horrible it might seem to us. He is, after all, the author! And once we accept His will – it becomes our own, as it did with Harold. He accepted his fate – because as Hoffman’s character says, “It’s beautiful. This is how it has to end.” And it was only AFTER this acceptance and total and complete submission that the author’s will also became his own.

And it leads to a happy ending for Harold after all! What more could you want in a movie?

I didn’t even realize the connection of Harold being a tax collector until you mentioned it! How clever!

As to the significance of the wristwatch – I identified with it because I am completely the same way. I live by my watch almost in the way Harold does. Everything in my life gets planned to the second. I think it was important because it shows how much he absolutely wanted to control his own life – there was no give and take with anything. He lived by his own plan….it was only when Harold accepted his author’s will (how her story had to end) that he gave up that control over his own life (his wristwatch is destroyed in the ending of her story) and lets her take the control – and in the very end, Harold comes out all the better for it!

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it as a good picker-upper. And mom, if you’re reading this, WATCH IT!

There is one scene that has some blood in it, but its not bad (I can’t stand blood in movies, and I was fine), and there are only a few swear words, and no nudity or sex (there is the slight suggestion of sex, but that’s all). I went it to see it with a friend of mine who has two kids ages 9 and 12 and they were fine. They loved it (but they also love Samuel Beckett plays….so I’m not sure if that’s saying anything).

Enjoy!

I like this movie quite a bit, but I really don’t think Will has a stellar character. Some of the movies he has been in are quite crude, and he never seems to pass up the opportunity to get naked.

Maggie is pretty much the only thing I did not like about the movie. Apparently it’s funny to be a quirky anarchist these days? I thought her character was a bit unbelievable as well as Harold’s interest in her. Not to mention the fact that they started their romance with Harold saying, “I want you.” How romantic is that? I mean he’s saying that he wants to use her body… Yuck! I used that as my cue to go use the movie theater’s restroom.

I got back just in time to still catch them in bed, so they DEFINITELY had sex even if it is offscreen. I’m just sad that this is what romantic comedies are all about these days. It’s romantic when a guy says, “Let’s have sex”? I would not take any children to see the movie. Apprently I won’t be taking any children to most movies…

Thanks Lois_lane,
We clearly saw the same movie.

Yes, very good. This makes sense to me.

Actually, this is one of the things I found disapointing. I wondered if this was something changed from the original story.(when I thought the original story writer and screenplay writer were not the same person). I felt that the before she changed the ending and saved his life she had written a masterpiece. Here, I am thinking that the lives of all of us are masterpieces when we follow God’s will. But when she changed the ending it went from a masterpiece to a “good story”. Now wouldn’t it be a better ending to have a masterpiece of an existance?
Along with that I had to ponder the author’s pain and sadness as she typed in the accident. Is God emotionally affected in a sad way to our injury caused by virtue. Wouldn’t it rather be a wooHoo? But then Jesus wept at the death of Lazerus. Was he weeping for Lazerus or was he weeping for the pain on the friends and family of Lazerus? Perhaps the author was weeping for us who had come to Love Harold. And/or for Maggie.

Thanks again for confirming this for me.
God bless,

Jim

I love Will Farrell. I think that anyone who can get me to laugh at physical humor (almost impossible) but also be totally deadpan is great.

As for the “cute little anarchist” role, I’d like to think that she got a chance at redemption, too. That by the end, she realized the value of sacrifice, not just protest. That she realized that actions have consequences, so pick your actions carefully (at least, that’s what I got by her drawing the “orderly and conventional” watch on her beloved’s cast).

As for Farrell’s character’s clunky “I want you” statement, I saw that as (however crudely put) a declaration that he was now embracing the life that God gave him, rather than running on autopilot. That for his whole previous life, he missed the Beauty, the Truth, the point of having Free Will, but finally, he “woke up”, and embraced the potential for love and sacrifice. That the “I want you” meant more than sexually- it meant that he wanted to enter the fully experience of humanity that God created (of course, it did have the sexual overtone, and I, too, wished the movie hadn’t fallen into the “we just met, let’s have sex” mentality).

One of my favorite scenes was the cookie scene, where Farrell’s character admits that his mother never nurtured him in the comforting milk-and-cookie type way. Gyllenhall’s character becomes a sort of lovely Madonna-figure there, showing him the beauty and importance of maternal love.

Ok, have to go show some maternal love to my kids.

Great movie. I liked the line about the anarchist meeting!
–KCT

That was so sweet. I thought it was cute how be brought her “flours” :slight_smile: .

—KCT

I like this movie quite a bit, but I really don’t think Will has a stellar character. Some of the movies he has been in are quite crude, and he never seems to pass up the opportunity to get naked.

No…I’m not referring to the characters he portrays in film and televsion. I’m referring to him, as a person – have you ever seen his picture in a gossip rag? Have you ever heard him say anything crass or innappropriate in an interview? I haven’t. He’s an actor - and the type of comedy he does is physical comedy, which most of the time revolves around the body and all its glorious imperfections. It’s been done since the very beginning of theatre — Greek comedy, anybody? Moliere?

In popular culture especially, one can’t always look at only the surface. It’s pop culture, after all! It’s not going to be overtly Christian, ever. It wouldn’t be pop culture if that were the case, and nobody would ever come to see anything, and pop culture (or theatre, or art, or opera) would never change the world! I work professionally in theatre. I did a show a couple years ago called “Elizabeth Rex,” which is about a gay actor in the Lord Chamerlain’s Players (Shakespeare’s company) who is dying of syphilis (a sort-of medieval equivalent of AIDS, basically). Essentially the whole thing was a dialogue between him and Queen Elizabeth, on the eve of Lord Essex’s (her lover’s) death. Very dark, emotionally distraught play that dealt with acceptance, truth, compassion, and learning how to truly mourn your losses and accept your fate. It was a difficult show to work on. Someone asked me, “How can you be a Christian and still work on this play?” My response: As a Christian, working in the arts, I feel that I am called to explore the deepest, darkest caverns of humanity and bring them to light – expose the real truth of what sin has done to our world so that we can work to right those wrongs and truly seek after holiness! E Rex happened to be a really dramatic, dark play. Ferrell, IMO, does this exact same thing, but with comedy (anyone seen blades of glory?). He explores the depravity of original sin and its stain on human nature, and brings it out into the stark, broad daylight so that we can see ourselves for what we really are – and work to correct those wrongs! I’m in the same situation now working on a show about Christianity and Homosexuality. It’s been HARD for me to deal with, on many levels, and I have definitely wanted to quit. But I’m sticking with it, because that’s the only way anybody will ever be able to understand – is if we work to explore that aspect of humanity and deal with it and dialogue about it. We can’t just run away and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

I got back just in time to still catch them in bed, so they DEFINITELY had sex even if it is offscreen.

Not necessarily. I know several friends in relationships who literally sleep together, but aren’t having sex. But again - think about pop culture. Look beneath what the filmmakers have to show in order to identify with their audience. The character of Ana goes through almost a more drastic change than Harold does! We first see her as the rebellious anarchist rising up against “the Man,” but as she grows and matures in her relationship with Harold (parallel to how he grows and matures in his own faith in his Author), she is redeemed and comes to full love and understanding and acceptance as well.

This is a “larger than life” movie in which the characters undergo drastic changes over the course of the story. Everybody has to start somewhere in order to end up in a satisfying situation for us, the viewers.

I felt that the before she changed the ending and saved his life she had written a masterpiece. Here, I am thinking that the lives of all of us are masterpieces when we follow God’s will. But when she changed the ending it went from a masterpiece to a “good story”. Now wouldn’t it be a better ending to have a masterpiece of an existance?

Jim – but it was she, the author, that changed the ending. She’s still the author – to her, it is still a masterpiece (even if her fans wouldn’t it see that way). That’s kind of how I felt – just like when something happens in our lives that we know was God’s will – it will be great to us, but someone else might not see it that way. Think about a single woman who gets pregnant – the wolrd might see this as a terrible burden because “its not the masterpiece her life should be,” but this is what God has written for her, and to Him and her, it IS the masterpiece. Even though it might not originally have been the way things were supposed to turn out. Make sense? At least, that’s how I viewed it.

And I think (again…IMO) that God does get sad when we have to suffer, even if it is "for good. " Don’t you know that he was devasted beyond belief when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden? After all, our suffering is something that we humans (his original perfect creation) have created for ourselves – and I think that it pains God terribly when we have to endure the trials and tribulations of this life – because those trials and tribulations and pain and suffering (results of original sin) are what separates us from Him, and it is only when those are ended that we will enjoy and glory in perfect unity with Him.

Yes, I have seen him do inappropriate things in interviews, i.e. stripping. I’m sorry but stripping is not what I consider appropriate for an interview, no matter how many members of the audience are egging him on. Additionally, I really think that the characters an actor chooses and the rolls they choose to play do reflect their character in some ways.

Would people who come to see that play see what you saw? The plays I have seen about homosexuals show their struggles but fail completely to show that homosexual behavior is sinful. Most people watching a show like that would feel sympathy for homosexulas (nothing wrong with that) but would not walk away with the truth about what Christianity teaches about the call to chastity. It’s not about running away from such problems or topics. It’s about showing the truth, Jesus Christ.

First of all, sleeping together even without sex is still wrong. It could lead to sin, it’s intimacy that should be reserved for marriage and it could cause scandal. Secondly, I disagree that there is any other interpretation to that sceene. It is very, very obvious that the characters had sex. Trying to interpret otherwise is ignoring all of the all the implications otherwise.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could see a romantic comedy ever that did not includ premarital sex. They didn’t even wait for the wedding night in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It’s just sad. There are no modern movies where a guy approaches a girl and treats her with the full dignity she deserves. So often female characters are happy to settle for less than their full dignity as well.

Unfortunately “Stranger than Fiction” played into the whole idea that if you’re not having sex, you may as well be dead. (I understand that it was not the point of the movie.) Virgins are almost always portrayed as stupid, ugly people who cannot get laid. And they are always trying to get laid and are obsessed with sex. Harold in “Stranger than Fiction” is a man who is not living life. He embraces life, and the symbol of that is his embrace of a woman he is not married to. Why does living life always have to equal having sex? I really felt that this entire part of the movie cheapened the message that it was trying to send. It came very close to meaning something more.

Would people who come to see that play see what you saw? The plays I have seen about homosexuals show their struggles but fail completely to show that homosexual behavior is sinful. Most people watching a show like that would feel sympathy for homosexulas (nothing wrong with that) b

You miss the point – the ultimate message of the play has nothing to do with homosexuality. It doesn’t “glorify” anything – rather, the story is being told using this character. I’m sorry - this was probably a bad illustration to use because without being familiar with the play its difficult to understand. But this is a topic about a movie so I won’t go off on a tangent any more than I already have.

Same thing with “stranger than fiction” – the ultimate message of the movie has nothing to do with the fact that they sleep together. It’s not glorifying pre marital sex. It just happens in the film, because that’s society.

For Christians who work in pop culture and the arts, there is a delicate balance between showing what is (sometimes unforutunately) reality and integrating their faith into their work. There are plenty of people out in the world who argue that “The Passion of the Christ” (which seems to be a big favorite around these forums) exploits the viewer through is glorification of blood and gore in connection with Jesus.

In our world today (unfortunately), pre marital sex is the norm – much more so than waiting until marriage. The movie would not necessarily have the same credibility or hit as hard to people without portraying the relationship as it really might exist in society. It doesn’t “play into the idea” that sex is all there is out there – its one aspect of their relationship (to reiterate) that is part of society.

This doesn’t diminish the ultimate themes and messages that the movie is trying to get across. Rather, you see this wonderful story of love and redemption and self-sacrifice occur in a very real setting, as opposed to something that everyone might scoff at because “that’s just not the way things are in real life.”

I think that we can’t get hung up on every little violation of Christian legality in pop culture. It’s secular society, after all. As a Christian, you have to discern and find the redemption that is present in every theatrical venture, whether its film, television, performance art, theatre, dance, music, etc. and embrace it!

Additionally, I really think that the characters an actor chooses and the rolls they choose to play do reflect their character in some ways.

In what ways? Please elaborate. I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this.

First of all, sleeping together even without sex is still wrong. It could lead to sin, it’s intimacy that should be reserved for marriage and it could cause scandal. Secondly, I disagree that there is any other interpretation to that sceene. It is very, very obvious that the characters had sex. Trying to interpret otherwise is ignoring all of the all the implications otherwise.

Again…not advocating this. And not saying that it’s necessarily the case – just offering another way that one could take the scene if they really wanted to believe that. It’s art after all – everything is in the eye of the viewer. =)

I never meant to imply that the ultimate message of the play is about homosexuality. Nor did I say anything about glorifying homosexuality. All I meant to question was whether or not viewers of the play would understand the message that you, as a Christian, want to show the world.

There is nothing wrong with showing reality. I never meant to say that there was. But if this “art” or entertainment perpetuates and promotes the same things that are already wrong with society, how is it helping? It would seem to me that it just continues to worsen the situation and that Christians may want to not be involved in such things at all, depending on the circumstances.

Real love doesn’t involve sin. I’m not sure “Stranger than Fiction” is about love at all. It’s about desire and need, surely, but I never saw true love presented. Where is the redemption? How can one be redeemed by entering into a sinful relationship?

And I don’t understand why people would scoff at a character who does not jump into bed with a girl he has known for a short time. If they do, we should work on that.

I feel like I’m being asked to squint and turn my head sideways so that I can see a hidden image. I never could see those things! Haha. “Stranger than Fiction” sends some negative messages. I can ignore them, but they will still be there.

If an actor chooses projects that promote a certain lifestyle, I think they are partially responsible for that. It is one thing for an actor to be in a movie where his character is a murderer who has no regrets and another thing all together to be in a movie where murder without regret is promoted. If it really comes through that murder is evil, I see no problem. Sadly, so many projects actually promote wrongdoing to viewers.

This has been a very interesting conversation for me, lois_lane, and I really appreciate your comments. I hope I have not gotten the thread off on a tangent or anything for the OP’s sake!

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