J Walking

A movie this afternoon in an attempt to forget about politics and see if I could find Jesus in Stranger than Fiction, the new Will Ferrell movie.

First, the obvious: afternoon movies? Fantastic. Empty theaters (or at least mine was), no lines, choice seats, and the frightening justification that being there was part of my work, part of my cultural education. I just wish there were more movies I actually wanted to see.

I’ll try to write without giving too much away. Regardless, if you are going to see the film, don’t read much further.

The film’s fundamental tension is between life and death and all the intrinsic ramifications. It brought to mind a passage from Deuteronomy: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live….”

Harold Crick (Ferrell) finds out he is going to die. Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is the proximate threat to his life — she is the novelist working on the story that is Crick’s life. Somehow or another Crick exists in the “real” world, but while she writes the story, he begins hearing her narrator’s voice. Crick’s hunt is to find her before she kills him on paper (and therefore in life). Her hunt is to find the best way to kill him — killing people is her literary thing.

There are scores of fascinating things in the film, but most fascinating to me is this — that Kay Eiffel is the chain-smoking, shaking, trembling, gaunt emodiment of death as she seeks to find a way to kill Crick.

Crick is a zombie until he hears her voice, and for him the threat of death gives him the courage (compelled by need) to live — to go after the girl, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), learn the guitar, and ultimately death nobly.

At the end, however, Kay Eiffel is different — she has chosen to give life and is reborn in a way, much as Harold Crick is as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film. Always remember to email if you want:

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