Today is the last important deadline of adult life. Tax Day! Have you filed yours? I always wit till the last possible moment, even if I know I am getting a refund. I don't know why. I like to live dangerously, I guess.
Anyway, in honor of this day, I always try to watch my favorite film about a tax collector. Indeed, aside from the wonderful Caravaggio of the Call of St. Matthew it might be the best work of art about a taxman. It certainly is the best work of art about an IRS tax auditor.
In it we find Harold Crick, said auditor, who wakes up one morning hearing a voice narrating his life ("accurately, and with a better vocabulary"). Soon thereafter he learns (through the narration) that his life is about to end. After speaking with a therapist (see below) and a shrink, he eventually makes his way to a professor of English Literature, played brilliantly by Dustin Hoffman. Dr. Hilbert's advice is literary: try to find out if you are in a comedy or a tragedy, and let the plot come to you. Meanwhile he begins auditing the beautiful Miss Pascal's bakery, and is totally smitten, though she hates the very core of his being ("That sounds like a comedy; try to develop that.")
Here's a quick exchange between Miss Pascal and Harold when they first meet (in honor of the day:
Ana Pascal: That's right.
Harold Crick: Looks like only 78 percent.
Ana Pascal: Yep.
Harold Crick: So you did it on purpose?
Ana Pascal: Yep.
Harold Crick: So you must've been expecting an audit.
Ana Pascal: Um, I was expecting a fine, or a sharp reprimand.
Harold Crick: A reprimand? This isn't boarding school, Miss Pascal. You stole from the government.
Ana Pascal: No I didn't steal from the government. I just didn't pay you *entirely*.
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, you can't just not pay your taxes.
Ana Pascal: Yes, I can.
Harold Crick: You can if you want to get audited.
Ana Pascal: Only if I recognize your right to audit me, Mr. Crick.
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, I'm right here auditing you.
I don't want to give away too much of the film--I just want to tease you with its premise. Let me say this alone: it is funny, it is sweet, it is well-acted all around, and, most of all, it points to that cliched but enduring truth that life is not only stranger than fiction, it's better too.