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
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.
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.
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
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