it’s like a cross between delirious, or a film written by charlie kaufman, and punch-drunk love. punch-drunk love is written and directed by p.t. anderson, who is probably my favorite of contemporary directors, so stranger than fiction doesn’t stack up to it, but it’s a solid picture nonetheless. i suppose the two biggest stories of the film are will ferrell’s performance – which is reserved and relatively complex – and the chemistry between him and gyllenhaal. i’ve thought much of her and her brother since donnie darko, and here she shows a sexiness and offbeat appeal that we don’t see in many mainstream pictures or leading ladies. she’s funny, intelligent, dynamic and different and it makes for a more fun picture with a fresh love story.
regarding ferrell, i began to tire of his routine after seeing talladega nights. in my review for that film i commented on the fact that he does his typical running around in his underwear bit and not much more. in stranger than fiction, though, he still has his unique comic energy, but it is restrained by the traits of his character and the tone of the film. this is one of the reasons i compare this film with punch-drunk love. in that film adam sandler steps outside of his usual routine and enters a different kind of character to great effect.
dustin hoffman seems to have found a new character for himself. in i heart huckabees, meet the fockers and stranger than fiction he plays a laid back, new agey, hip older guy. he continues to add facets to his amazing career.
marc forster, who directed this, finding neverland and monster’s ball, turns in his best film to date. actually, i haven’t seen finding neverland, but i’ve heard it’s depressing and i’m going to project that forster doesn’t do depressing very well. monster’s ball was a yawn without soul, so i’ll just say that stranger than fiction is his best film. visually it’s interesting and he does a good job handling the tragic and comic elements. though i do have a bit of a problem with the ending.Watched in theater