Big Fish – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

bigBig Fish – 3.5/5 – This is a recommendation review for a film that came out a few years ago.  In re-watching this film, I had forgotten the particulars, but understood that it is visual and imaginary.  After re-watching the film, the deeper meanings of life, love and family came through, and the understanding of its cohesion with Tim Burton’s storytelling is amazing.  With simple characterization, great direction and an invented world created, Big Fish is an emotionally moving film.

Premise: The story revolves around the relationship between a dying father and his son.  In these last days of his life, the son (Billy Crudup) is trying to learn more about his dad (Ewan McGregor/Albert Finney) by piecing together the stories he has gathered over the years.  What he comes to understand is his father’s elusive life is more than just ordinary, but a seamless take on legends and myths of an adventure found in books. Through these tales, the son begins to understand his father’s great feats and his great failings, knowing that even stories are worth living in.

In this film, the main people are the father and son.  Starting with the present time, you have Billy Crudup playing the son, and the father (present time) is played by Albert Finney.  Here, you see the father/son relationship intertwine in a very strong but astute way.  The chemistry between Albert and Billy is well drawn out.  In their interactions, you see that they have a typical father/son dynamic that is simple but easily provoked.  You see great acting in their banter, as well as feel the real strain in their connection.  The son believes the stories of his father are fabrications, and his father leaves him to find out the real truth behind his stories.  Through this model, it falls back on the overall narration, the actors don’t bring anything else to their character models.   Also, we have the wife of the son (Marion Cotillard) and the wife of the father (Jessica Lang).  They don’t do much but compliment the son and father.  They are also not given ample time to develop, and are really just used to move the story along.  Beyond this present time, we also have the parallel past.  In these flash backs, you get a younger version of the father, played by Ewan McGregor.  In this role, you watch the retelling of the father’s stories through his eyes, watching it develop up close.  McGregor does a great job in carrying this portion of the film, showing someone who has kindness but fueled by dedication to making his and everyone’s lives better.  Since this part of the story is also told through narration, the characterization is minimal, but is strong enough for the audience to become attached to the father’s story.  The movie’s supporting cast throughout the film are created well, but aren’t standouts from the story.  You have some notable names (Helena Bonham Carter and Steve Buscemi) but they only do enough to provide unique archetypes to the progression of the story.

The direction of the film is built off narration and common film themes.  In the prologue, we are introduced to Ed Bloom (the father) through the eyes (narration) of the son.  The story takes you, first, into the theme of the father/son dynamic.  As mentioned above, the son has grown weary of his father’s stories, and wants to know the truth.  As the film takes off from here, we are given a backdrop into the beginnings of Ed Bloom’s life.  The shift between the present and past is done in a lovely fashion, as familiar connections parallel the progress of the story.  As the father approaches death in present time, you get a connection to something from his childhood.  As you come into seeing the love through the son’s marriage, you get a connection to Ed finding true love.  These are some of the paralleling themes and stories.  These parallels create a stern but whimsical tale, which is both believable and elusive.  Why there is this kind of ironic tone in the movie is because the director (Tim Burton) does a good job in making the audience either to believe the father’s history as being completely true or false.  This is because the son slowly (in the present) retraces his father’s steps, and finds a lot of the people and places from the stories are real.  This illusion is grand, but the reality that is focused is great.  This makes Tim Burton’s vision very lively and enjoyable.  Even when the film slows down, you still have the emotional connections, no matter if they are using the ‘father/son’ or ‘relationship/love’ elements.  What matters is, you feel a rush of this adult-styled fairytale.  In the end, the conclusion of Ed Bloom’s life is overwhelming, but is  welcomed.  By the films credits, you feel the journey, and understand the meaning of life, adventure, and overall feelings of finding who you are in this world.

As mentioned above, this is a Tim Burton film.  When it comes to this, he has a distinct but intriguing style towards visuals. Through Burton’s vision, you get a world that is raw in imagination, color and vividness.  This helps bring a believable factor to the world of Ed Bloom, even if its ‘fairy tale’ styled.  From story elements (like the hidden town, flowers and big fish ‘theme’) you get something that vibrates in warmness.  The score is a great complete to the story and visuals, creating a strong attachment to the film, from beginning to the end.

Overall, Big Fish is a delightful but meaningful film.  You get a very strong family movie, intertwined with Tim Burton’s direction, and wonderful characters created by cast of familiar faces.  For anyone looking for a film to rent, this is one you should not pass up.

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