[MOVIE REVIEW]This fish could use some more spice“Big Fish” looks like a nice catch for a family night, but may disappoint those Tim Burton fans who cherish the director for his thorny weirdness.
Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) is an aging Southern salesman with a special talent for tall tales. His signature yarn is that on the day his son Will (Billy Crudup) was born, he was out on the river, pursuing a legendary fish so big and old that some of the locals said it had lived since the Cretaceous period.
To lure such a mighty fish, he says, he knew that only gold would work. And so he took off his wedding ring...
As a boy, Will is entranced by this tale, and countless other fantastic stories that his father tells about his life. But by the time Will has grown up to become a reporter for a wire service ― a man who deals strictly with the facts ― he’s lost patience with what he calls his father’s “lies.”
And after Edward makes himself the center of attention at Will’s wedding by telling the “big fish” story yet again, Will stops speaking to him for three years.
One day, receiving a call from his mother telling him that his father is dying, he returns to his hometown in Alabama with his French wife, Josephine (Marion Cotillard).
While his mother (Jessica Lange) and his warm-hearted wife find Edward and his fantasized life story endearing, Will presses his father to find out what literal truth there is in his beguiling visions.
This film is basically a story of an estranged son striving to understand and reconcile with his father ― embellished with the kind of imaginative, elaborate characters and situations that are Tim Burton’s trademark.
Without Burton’s imaginative touch, the film would have lacked the lively charm it has. Edward’s tall tales grow more engaging as the film progresses, and audiences may find themselves yearning for more, not unlike Marlon Brando in “Don Juan De Marco” as the psychiatrist who found himself enchanted by the stories woven by a man (Johnny Depp) who claimed to be the actual Don Juan.
“Big Fish’s” charming, odd characters are all perfectly cast: the likable giant Karl (Matthew McGrory), whom Edwards first hunts, then befriends, setting out on the road with him; the werewolf circus ringleader (Danny DeVito); Norther Winslow (Steve Buscemi, always a fresh delight), a failed poet who becomes a bank robber, then a successful Wall Street investor; and Helena Bonham Carter, in a dual role as a woman who loves Edward and a witch with a glass eye in which children can see the future. Ewan MacGregor is uncriticizable as the young Edward Bloom.
But despite the fact that its theme is a son finding a way to get closer to his real father, the film never suggests what reason Edward had to varnish his life with stories, and stick to them in the face of his son’s emotional pleas.
And because it lacks the dark, disturbing quality that has mesmerized Tim Burton fans around the world ― think of Edward Scissorhands, whose razor-sharp hands kept him from expressing affection despite his warm heart, or the Penguin in “Batman Returns,” who hated other people because he’d been abandoned by his parents for being deformed ― this fish is, finally, too sweet.
Comedy / English
by Kim Hyo-jin
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