Big Fish (2003)

DailyView: Day 136, Movie 210

Tim Burton has had plenty of classic films in his illustrious career, but I believe there are few as beautifully rendered as Big Fish, a tale of a father and a son and the stories told between them.

A fantastic cast with a witty and creative tall tale of a man’s life brings magic to the screen. Touching and emotional, Big Fish is a film I did not know I would love as much as I did.

Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) was frustrated by his father Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) because he was always telling tall tales about his life, emphasizing the fantastical elements over the reality. Will never knew what was true about his father and what was simply embellishments and that led to a period of estrangement between them. So when news came to Will that his father was dying from cancer, Will and his pregnant wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) returned home.

Desperate for some level of truth, Will hoped to have moments alone with his father to learn something real about him. However, despite the illness, Ed was more than happy to recount his tales of his youth, leaving his hometown and making his way to find the love of his life.

Ewan McGregor played Ed as a young man working his way through a lifetime of memories, filled with hyperbole and exaggeration though we never really know what exactly was true or what was not. The main story he told, the story of the day his son was born, was about the catching of the Big Fish that was uncatchable, with the use of his golden wedding ring.

Jessica Lange starred as Ed’s wife and love of his life Sandra. Jessica Lange is one of those actresses that, no matter how big or little the part is, will never give you anything but an exceptional performance. She is a treasure and her unrelenting support for Ed in Big Fish tells you everything you need to know about him.

Big Fish was another collaboration between director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman, famously working together on other projects such as Batman (1989), The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow. Elfman received an Oscar nomination for the score of Big Fish and it is well deserved as the music perfectly encompassed the whimsical aspects of the story, beautifully tagging the important parts with a beauty.

Without spoiling the movie, the conclusion in the third act was one of the most emotional moments of the film and it drove home the importance of the relationship between father and son while showing the impact of a person’s life on those around him.

The film may be a tad long, as some scenes from act 1 may stretch out the run time unnecessarily, but that would be the only criticism that I would have. There are great performances and stellar writing, full of metaphors and themes that provide the true magic of life. Big Fish is Tim Burton’s masterpiece.

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