Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dreaming: Stranger Than Fiction

As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be okay. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

Marc Foster's Stranger Than Fiction, starring Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, and Will Ferrell, relays the story of how a frustrated wristwatch redeems and then saves the life of its unhappy owner, Harold Crick, an IRS auditor.  Harold, a routine driven government employee, finds his life suddenly turned upside down when he hears a voice narrating his future, a voice that soon predicts his death.  Mr. Crick, as most people would, views this development as both unnerving and upsetting.  In an attempt to return order to his now chaotic world, Harold first visits a psychiatrist and then an English Lit Professor.  The latter informs Harold he is the unwitting main character in a novel.  Whether he survives depends on what type of fictional narrative he's living: A Comedy or A Tragedy.  As the story progresses, Harold breaks out of his dull routine and begins fulfilling his dreams.  He buys an electric guitar, learns to play, eats homemade cookies for the first time, falls in love, and then pursues Ana Pascal, a wild but fascinating bakery owner Harold is auditing.  Foster's narrative is one about choosing to live life intentionally.  At the end of the story, the Narrator must choose between producing the best piece of English literature in the last decade or killing Harold Crick.  Harold must choose whether to accept his fate and save another life or sacrifice his own.  In my opinion, its a beautiful film and worthwhile watch.


Now, there is some debate between my best friend and I on the subject of Harold.  Maggie likes him while I love him.  To my way of thinking, Harold Crick is unbelievably sexy.  One of my favorite moments in the film comes when Harold looks at Ana who is perplexed by him (Crick unintentionally rejects her when he offers to buy the cookies she made especially for him because he did not understand the gesture until it was too late) and professes his desire for her.  For me, Harold's confusion at how to explain himself to Ana and his attempt to make up things up to her by purchasing her 10 different types of flours is thoughtful and romantic.  In the scene, Miss Pascal is still stinging from Harold's offers to pay for her gift until she realizes how sincere he is. Then she melts.  


Ana Pascal: What are they? 
Harold Crick: [quietly] Flours. 
Ana Pascal: What? 
Harold Crick: I brought you flours. 
Ana Pascal: Um... , and you carried them all the way here? 
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, I've been odd, and I, I know I've been odd, and... I want you. 
Ana Pascal: What? 
Harold Crick: There there are many reasons, there are so many influences in my life, that are telling me, at times, quite literally, that I should come here and bring you these, but I'm doing this because I want you. 
Ana Pascal: You want me? 
Harold Crick: In no uncertain terms. 
Harold Crick: Because I want you. 
Ana Pascal: Well... I... isn't there some... very... clear and established... rule... about... fraternization? 
Harold Crick: Auditor/Auditee protocol? 
Ana Pascal: Yeah. 
Harold Crick: Yeah, but I don't care. Why? Because I want you. 


Not sure about other ladies, but in my book "because I want you" might be the most moving profession I've ever heard. Its simple, to the point, and yet endearing.  Who doesn't want to hear that? But for a film I own and adore, I rarely watch it.  Why you ask?  Because when contemplate Stranger Than Fiction, I start believing in dreams, the importance of wristwatches, the kindness of a friend, and the significance of our choices.  For as long as I can remember, my dreams, both waking and sleeping, have always been vivid.  When I awake from a good dream, I feel contented and warm but the feeling only lasts until I remember that dreams are illusions which lead to disappointments.  Despite what the Muppet Movie suggests, there is no Rainbow Connection. (When I was small, I marched around belting out the lyrics to that song and banging on my Casio Keyboard.  Insufferable.)  I'm always torn.  I hate dreaming but can't help it so I'm perpetually anxious and worried about the willfulness of my heart.  Its a pickle I tell you. But something happened earlier this week that renewed my faith in dreams.  No, a narrator has yet to step in and predict my days (I'd be so grateful!) and I haven't seen my wristwatch in a long time (I'm an Ana not a Harold), but I had a small dream come true.  Dreams, you see, are controlled not just by hearts but by the loving actions of others.  Perhaps to some such a moment is unimportant but not to me.  To me, that moment makes all the difference in the world.  Little dreams are like those 10 bags of flour.  Its not the flour or the dream that matters but the heart behind them.


Now I'm heading into the weekend and my track record suggests troubling is brewing.  On my own for the next few days and worried about train wrecks, but I think instead of fretting, I'll remember those 10 bags of flours, the purpose of pleasant dreams, and the one that came true.  I'll put on my movie and hold onto that unexpected delight rather than letting it slip away.  And just maybe everything will be okay.  "Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Barvarian sugar cookies, reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, a kind and loving gesture, a subtle encouragement, a loving embrace, an offer of comfort, not to mention soft-spoken secrets.  And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause.  They are there to save our lives.  I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true.  And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick."

2 comments:

  1. one of my favs movie, nice words.
    Regards from Argentina

    Luciano

    "Dr. Jules Hilbert: Aren't you relieved to know you're not a golem?"

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment Luciano! And I really enjoy the golem quote as well.

      On why Harold must die: "Its contingent upon the type of life being led...and, of course, the quality of the pancakes."

      All best!
      Jennifer

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