The movie Stranger than Fiction written by Zach Helm is the first movie I’ve seen in a while that kept me awake. Could the reason be because it is filmed in Chicago? Could it be because there is humor, romance, and a hilarious portrayal of a novelist who is wrestling with the problem of how to kill off the protagonist in her newest piece of fiction? Yes. I adored Stranger than Fiction for all these reasons, but I like it most because of its playful high concept.
Harold Crick has been working as an IRS auditor for twelve years. For twelve years, numbers and solitude organized his entire life. Every day, he’d have a 45.7-minute lunch break and a 3.5-minute coffee break. When he starts hearing a disembodied woman’s voice narrating his life, his mundane life turns suddenly dramatic. After consulting his one work friend, a psychiatrist, and a literature professor, Harold realizes that he is a tax man, who lives a real life in the real world, but there is a novelist writing his life in one of her novels. Her fiction project influences his real life. Harold's concern is whether the story will turn out comic or tragic. Will he hitch up with the attractive baker, who he is auditing; or will he meet with an early death?
This movie combines film and narration in a comic way reminiscent of 1970s Woody Allen kind of humor. It inspired me.
I also realized what a fabulous place Chicago is to make a film. The variety of architectural styles in Chicago offers filmmakers an exciting palette to work with.
This movie featured these places:
55 East Jackson Blvd.
River City South Wells Marina Tower Buildings
111 West Jackson
350 East Cermak
Emergency Room at Michael Reese Hospital
Little Village 2500 South Christiana
Chicago’s architecture provides the perfect artistic backdrop for a good high concept movie.
My favorite line was Dustin Hoffman delivering these words: “Dramatic irony will fuck you every time.”