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Big Fish (2003)

PG-13 110 minutes

Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Daniel Wallace & John August

 · Ewan McGregor
 · Albert Finney
 · Billy Crudup
 · Jessica Lange
 · Helena Bonham Carter
 · Robert Guillaume
 · Steve Buscemi
 · Danny DeVito
 · & Matthew McGrory

Review by Arcturus

Tim Burton leads us through a larger than life tale of fantasy and whimsy in his recent Big Fish, adapted from the novel by the same name. In the film, an avid storyteller, Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), recounts the story of his life to his son on his death bed, through a series of fantastical sketches and set pieces.




First and foremost this film boasts an excellent cast; Albert Finney gives a great performance as the aged storyteller Edward Bloom, with an amazingly realistic Southern accent. Ewan Mc Gregor is also extremely adept in his portryal of the younger Bloom, oozing with style, charisma and on screen presence. The supporting cast are excellent as well- Danny De Vito makes an excellent "werewolf" ringmaster, and similarly Steve Buscemi puts in a good performance as an inept poet turned inept bank robber. Burton's trademark surrealistic world view is clearly back on track with this film- the sets are simply goregeous, and the ideas behind each set piece highly inventive. Despite the inventiveness of many of the set pieces however, I was left with a sickly sweet "cutesified" after-taste in my mouth, a lot of the film goes over the top on an emotional scale, and almost enters "Forrest Gump" territory. Despite this, the film has an indescribable charm to it. The situations that Bloom finds himself in rarely fall into the traditional dark and disturbing territory that we are used to with Burton, and it is a depature for him from such films as Edward Scissorhands and Batman. The films overall moralistic message seems a little forced and confused- is Burton suggesting we should only live our lives through the fantasy and lies that we create?- perhaps not. The main idea I carried away from the film was that our lives will continue to be told and retold by those that have known and loved us, and in effect we gain a certain immortality. One thing which did seriously jarr with me however was that I found the various sketches to be rather disjointed and unconnected, nothing seemed to link them together in my mind until presented with the ending.




All the various sketches and tall tales of Bloom's life were highly entertaining and intriguing- they really grabbed my interest. I didn't feel stylistically that they were linked together incredibly well, but from a "popcorn" viewpoint this hardly mattered. The portrayal of the romance between Edward and Sandra really worked well, and had some genuinely touching moments. Similarly the portrayal of the not so cozy realtionship between Will Bloom and his father worked very well, and built up to a particularly touching finale. The film is magnificently shot and realised- the sheer beauty of the sets is unquestionable. The only reason the film doesn't get a higher "popcorn" rating from me is on a few points. Firstly, the pacing is slightly off and the film suffers from this, and secondly a few of the memories really didn't add anything vital or important to the story as a whole, and could quite easily have been left out.



In conclusion Big Fish is an admirable and worthwhile film from director Tim Burton, and whilst it departs from the dark and disturbing feel of many of his films, the strange, quirky, inventiveness is still very much there. Although a little over-sentimental in places, Big Fish for me is still a definite must-see.

567 Words Published: 30 January 2004

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