He will find the process a bit like trying to separate Boardwalk taffy.

BIG FISH

An Illusion review by Joan Ellis 


                Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” is a wonderful concept.  As we lie dying, whenever that may be, who among us wouldn’t love to remember our lives, especially if they have been long ones, as being an enchanting passage - not to reminisce in terms of competition or accomplishment or money, but in terms of small twists, here and there, that have bewitched us? 

                Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) lies dying and he remembers at length, for instance, a paradisiacal town where residents walk barefoot on grass covered streets.  Edward steps through a hole in the forest and there it is:  the perfect place.  But I’m ahead of myself.

                Edward’s tall tales so annoy his son, Will (Billy Crudup), that the two haven’t spoken for three years;  Will lives in Paris with his lovely French wife and on this night he is summoned home by his mother Sandra  (Jessica Lange) to his father’s deathbed in America.  It is time, Will knows, to separate fact from fiction in the fabrications his father has always spun.  He will find the process a bit like trying to separate Boardwalk taffy.
                As Edward weaves and reweaves his tales for Will, we watch the young Edward (Ewan McGregor) live the fantasies.  Ewan McGregor has the smile of an angel and the charm of an innocent – the person perfectly equipped to receive so many of life’s pleasures.  McGregor and Finney are entirely credible as Edward, young and old.  Jessica Lange, with little dialogue, manages to evoke a dreamy marriage while Billy Crudup and Marion Cotillard promise the same kind of sweet-spirited future.

Young Edward runs a landscaping service, spends three years in bed, wins top prize at a science fair, becomes a football and basketball hero, saves a dog from a burning house, falls in love with a circus, and discovers Paradise.  He also woos his future wife with her favorite flower – an entire field of daffodils beneath her window.  And he meets a witch (Helena Bonham Carter) whose glass eye reveals a piece of the future to anyone who stares deeply within it – especially scared little boys.   Edward isn’t scared; he is fascinated.

Tim Burton uses Edward’s memories to roam widely through his own nimble imagination about a good life:  a sympathetic wife and daughter-in-law who listen forever to the old stories, a good son trying to understand his father - and all those grand experiences.

                There us not one mean person among the people who roam through his fantasies    the conjoined twins, the witch, the gentle giant he rescued from the forest - Isn’t that what we might like to think about, as we finally lie dying – that life showered us with kind people and interesting events that didn’t scare us?  Who could stay mad at a man who simply needed to pass along all his blessings?  Is exaggeration a sin?  In the end, Edward just needed to embellish things a bit for his son – or did he?

 


Copyright (c) Illusion

Return to Ellis Home Page