When I was a kid, I believed that the life we lead was actually someone else’s dream. The bad things would all end when they woke up and that none of the bad things were real. As a child, someone else always makes your decisions and you are pretty much happy that someone else steers the car for you. When you want to take control of your life, you know you’re growing up. That comforting thought, the ability to think someone else was dreaming my life for me, started to annoy me as I started growing up.
Then I started to think of myself as the leading lady of a film that was my life. I knew that no matter what mistakes I made, no matter how many times my heart broke and no matter how many times I failed, I would get up and make things right. It worked for me. It still does. The narrative of my life happens in my head, in my voice and most of the times this voice comes out as an affirmation. This narrative is a reminder that this is my life and that I am the creator of whatever happens in it.
What if I wake up and an alien voice starts narrating my life?
It would completely freak me out, despite the bizarre habit of narrating my own life in my head. So it comes as no surprise that Harold Crick, an IRS auditor gets completely psyched when he starts hearing the narrative of his life in a woman’s voice.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) is the story of Harold Crick, who hears his life being narrated to him and then when the narration stops, Harold tries to figure out what lies ahead of him. Harold Crick is forced to break out of the monotony of his life and rediscover what genre his story falls under. Harold is auditing a deliberate tax evader, Ana Pascal. As he goes through her tax history, Harold starts to realise that he is attracted to Ana. If it weren’t for the narrative, Harold would have never noticed how he felt. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many times, we overlook what we really feel towards a thing or a person and go on to do what we think is right or what we think fits into our job description. Personally, every time I pass a shoe store, it would be cool to have a voice say, ‘She was attracted to the luminous silver sandals and the fiery red peep-toes. She found herself being pulled into the store to buy them, but as she tried the shoes on and walked to a mirror, she realised that she didn’t need them. They looked fabulous but the truth was that she was going to feel terribly guilty about buying them. Did she want to feel that guilty?’ Yes, a narrative can make you see things the way they are and no, you can’t suppress that voice.
It’s interesting to see Harold break out of his routine to live his life. The quest to find the genre of his life story becomes his life story. And he surrenders to the narrative of his life and prepares to embrace a tragic death because without the death, the narrative of his life would sound bland. Irony.