Dr. Mittag-Leffler: I'm afraid what you're describing is schizophrenia.
Harold Crick: No, no. It's not schizophrenia. It's just a voice in my head. I mean, the voice isn't telling me to do anything. It's telling me what I've already done... accurately, and with a better vocabulary.
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: Mr. Crick, you have a voice speaking to you.
Harold Crick: No, not TO me. ABOUT me. I'm somehow involved in some sort of story. Like I'm a character in my own life. But the problem is that the voice comes and goes...
Dr. Mittag-Leffler: Mr. Crick, I hate to sound like a broken record, but that's schizophrenia.
Poor Harold Crick! My first seeing of the movie was prior to starting my Bachelors in English at Olivet. I lumped it right along with the failed drama from Adam Sandler's Punch Drunk Love (2002). Both movies are a little on the slow side when it came to getting to the point of it all. I grasped onto Fiction much faster than Punch's story. Sandler's movie was done 4 years prior to the release of Ferrell's as if the writers and staff modeled the picture off the other way trying not to recreated the same mistakes while attempting to broaden the acting portfolio's of these very comedically acclaimed actors.
Since gaining my degree in English, watching the movie was like a whole new experience. The little nuances related to literary theory, philosophy, and writing no longer get lost in the slow, and steady movie. These minor points stick out like a sore thumb. I am left thinking to myself, "how did I miss this the first-time around?" Now, I would definitely recommend still seeing the movie, but you don't need a college English degree to follow along or even understand. Stranger than Fiction offers more comedic breaks through the entangled relationships of the characters played by Ferrell and Gyllenhall, or Queen Latifah and Thompson. In fact, I'd like to note that Maggie Gyllenhall brings a good amount of spunk to the movie (similar to her performance towards the latter-half of The Secretary) not only with her sarcastic and witty attitude, but also with a completely different look than Crick's. Harold Crick is completely clean and tidy to a fault whereas Pascal is tatted, and dirty (as in flour-covered because she cooks and bakes).
Fiction is born out of the non-fictional, real-life circumstances that motivate us
Recently, while watching the film my husband pointed out a valid plot hole in the movie regarding the author's narration of Crick's life. If the author was truly supposed to be considered omniscient (having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding) then wouldn't she be aware that he knows her voice is present. But as the movie divulges, fiction blends into reality a certain discovery is made. The ending of this movie is clearly not what any one person would expect due to the encounter that occurs part-way through.
So, as a writer this movie leaves me with some things to consider when I take on the tasks of writing that new story, novel, poem, blog post based on the non-fiction turned into fiction.
- Is my character's name based on a real person?
- Will using that name or real-person's personality somehow strip them of their ability to control their fate?
- Have I (the writer) considered the real-life consequences associated with my fictional piece of writing?
Have you ever come across these writing dilemmas? If so, I want to hear from you. What was the struggle, and how did you overcome it? Even if it ended badly, did you learn a lesson from the experience?