Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Big Fish

Big Fish; Fantasy comedy, USA, 2003; D: Tim Burton, S: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter

Will Bloom flies with his wife to the home of his old, terminally ill father Edward with whom he never had a good relationship. Namely, Edward always told him exaggerated stories about his life: how he saved his town from a giant, saw his own death in the eye of a witch, entered a very pleasant town, got hired in a circus run by Amos who could transform into a werewolf, fell in love with Sandra Templeton, went as a soldier voluntarily to Korea to steal secret plans, met Siamese women, bought a whole town to save it from ruins...Will is annoyed by all that stories because he always wanted to hear the truth about his dad's life. Still, when he visits him on his death bed in hospital, Will embraces his escapism and imagination and starts telling stories himself.

Tim Burton always tended to stimulate the surreal, dark and phantasmagorical side of the viewer's minds, and it's always an interesting thing to do since those territories are rarely challenged in big films, but in this and many of his films, he only succeeds in capturing quick attention while some deeper excursions into it's themes are absent and remain just a shallow sight to behold. "Big Fish" has Burton back in his good shape - he was even nominated for a BAFTA as best director - and even challenging him to change his style and create a moderate, slightly more 'normal' achievement in the touching story about the clash between a serious, realistic and uptight son and his frivolous, imaginative father who loves telling wacky, exaggerated stories in order to escape the harsh reality of the grey world, pushing the film towards a surprisingly ambitious territory where cheerful colors represent imagination and grey reality, yet already somewhere in the exposition where the protagonists tells how his mother gives birth to him and he slides as a baby some 20 yards through the hospital, does it dwell into silly cartoon mood. Truly, most of Edward's stories are nor particularly funny nor particularly emotional, just wacky as some Tex Avery cartoon, indulging Will's lamenting at it's triviality, but instead of a critical "boy who always cried wolf" approach, Burton rather shows that those lies are actually just a way of Edward's escape into an imaginary world and happiness, and the brilliant ending where Will finally embraces his sick dad's storytelling and tells him a wonderful story where they escape from the hospital, is truly something that has to be seen.


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