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Stranger Than Fiction or Saner Than Reality?

Saumya, Keshav, Subha


One day, as you brush your teeth, you hear a voice narrating your every move. Confused? Scared out of your wits? Well, that is exactly how the character in the latest movie we reviewed felt. Stranger than Fiction is a story about a man named Harold Crick and his wrist watch. A creature of habit, his life is turned upside down when one day he hears a voice narrating his day to day tasks. To his increasing horror, he discovers he is the protagonist in an author’s tragic novel. We watch as he discovers that in fact his death is being planned by the narrator.

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This 113 minute long movie brought out mixed reviews from our panel.The way the main character’s actions are dealt with can be interesting for someone who can watch slow paced movies with no qualms but irritate a viewer who wants a lot more going on in the movie. In other words, the movie felt exactly like an Agatha Christie novel in that it starts out slowly and then, as the story progresses, if the reader is hooked enough the ending will blow their mind. What is really intriguing about the movie is the very idea that the characters in a book are alive. How an author deals with the mortality of a real person and that of a book character forms the crux of the movie. Looking at Harold Crick through the eyes of the author is akin to observing someone else’s life in a god-like fashion. In its defense, the premise of the movie is set in ordinary circumstances and we can’t expect mind-blowing action sequences in such movies. It could be argued, of course, that there are movies that take place in extremely ordinary circumstances like Her and Ex Machina, but which still manage to hold your attention and drive you to complete watching them.

Another off-putting characteristic of the movie were the cliches. The love angle was an unforgivable cliche that would put even Yash Raj executives to shame. What it did was deliver a blow to the very seriousness of the movie that it tried to achieve earlier. It distracts the viewer from the final mindset a movie about existence and mortality would be expected to leave the audience in. The movie lost the chance to be classified as intellectually simulating because viewers can predict what is going to happen according to the rom-com trope. What was their final take-home? Did they want it to be a serious movie or a romedy? Thus ensues a big question: is the portrayal of the character too realistic for a movie built on cliches? This leaves it in a hot mess between something realistic and mainstream. This will only work for audiences who truly believe cliches happen in real life.

What, without doubt, stands out in the movie is the cinematography. Usually we don’t end up paying attention to details like camera angles and such even though the directors spend a fair amount of time on it. There were wonderful dichotomies between the physical things in the background and metaphorical events which were happening to the characters.

When it comes to characters in a movie, the audience should really care about what happens to the protagonist. However, even the reviewer in our panel who loved the movie wouldn’t call Harold a favorite. The accompanying actors, on the other hand hold the movie together. An honorary mention goes to the surprisingly funny character, Harold Crick’s watch, the inanimate object brought to life in the movie. Though an insignificant object, it adds comic relief to the otherwise drab pace of the movie.

What the movie did leave us with is the message that, like the protagonist, we too should take a careful look and judge if our lives are a comedy or a tragedy. Life in IIIT though, we would all agree, the first year is a comedy of errors and third year – an adventure. Second year perhaps, a Shakespearean tragedy. Fourth year? A melodrama, we guess.

Our final thoughts on the movie are simply – a big YES to certain audiences who can appreciate a slow paced movie. This is a movie that intends to make you introspect and gives you time as you go along to process the thoughts and emotions. It’s just a story of how an extraordinary premise can affect the lives of very ordinary people, dealing with certain existential questions.

“What if there was someone who was looking down at us, at all times? What if someone else was dictating our lives?”

They don’t really answer these for us, just let it out in the open. What would you do if stuck in such a scenario?

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Saumya Rawat

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