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Stranger Than Fiction


Stars: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah

Director: Marc Forster

Strange indeed. This is a bizarre but sometimes beguiling oddity about an IRS agent, Harold Crick (Ferrell), whose well-regimented life is suddenly invaded by a narrator (Thompson) inside his head. She describes every step of his existence, down to the exact number of strokes he never varies when brushing his teeth.

Harold always knows the answer to everything, but this, seemingly fired into being through his wrist-watch, is too much. 'I'm a character in my own life,' he groans.

Even odder is that Thompson is in fact a famous author, Kay, who's writing a book about a character called Harold Crick that exactly mirrors Harold's own life.

It charts his descent on baker-turned-tax-rebel Ana (Gyllenhaal), who seduces him with her cookies, and his encounter with a literary theorist (Hoffman), who advises him to live out his dreams, before - as the book predicts - he meets an early death.

So he buys a guitar, starts an affair with Ana - and tries desperately to find the reclusive Kay and get her to change her ending.

Ferrell is surprisingly effective as Harold, but it's Thompson who steals this curio and reminds us - apart from her appearance in Nanny McPhee - how much the cinema has missed her many talents in recent times.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Buena Vista. Colour by De Luxe.
126 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 27 Nov 2006