Projections - Movie Reviews
Big Fish
Big Fish
Starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange,
Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito
Tim Burton must have a liking for the name Edward. It's in the titles of two of his finest films, Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands, both characters being outsiders. Now, in his Big Fish, the lead character is Edward Bloom, played in the present by the wonderful Albert Finney and in the past by Ewan McGregor. This fantastical, whimsical departure for Burton is an involving family drama that derives is truth from the make-believe, even if its fanciful world doesn't have the appeal of a Forrest Gump or The Princess Bride.

This grounded, poetic trip down the rabbit hole features giants, witches, leaping spiders and a huge catfish, but unveils a touching love story amid a son trying to understand the tall tales of his father.

Edward Bloom (Finney) isn't much of a weirdo, but he has quite an imagination. He's lived behind his mythic creations, driving away his implosive, journalistic son Will (Billy Crudup) to France where he has a wife, Josephine (Marion Cotillard), and a child on the way.

The relationship between Bloom and his estranged son is about to change when his mother, the lovely Jessica Lange, tells Will that his father is dying. In seeing him for the first time in three years, Will tries to distill what is real in his father's colorful recollections.

MacGregor's young Edward has the unmistakable look of Finney in his early career when he was Tom Jones. The screenplay by John August Charlie's Angles, invites some unusual, detailed settings, complements of fine production designing. The disbelieving Will tries to piece together a very surreal jigsaw puzzle.

In the exaggerations we see the strange Karl the Giant (Matthew McGory) in whom Edward explains his ambitions are too big for a small pond like Ashton. A witch, played by Burton's real-life friend Helena Bonham Carter, beguiles him with the prognostication of death from her glass eye and teaches him that "the biggest fish in the river gets that way by never getting caught."

Spectre is a kind of Eden town where out hero meets up with a failed poet turned bank robber, Steve Buscemi's often amusing Norther Winslow. Then, he is in the employ of an unctuous, clandestine circus ringmaster (Danny DeVito).

Lohman Matchstick Men responds quite well to Burton's new domestication in an uncanny younger version of Lange as a romantic trip among daffodils makes for a unique courtship.

Big Fish doesn't strive to hook deep into reality, but the actors like the raconteur Finney and Lange add emotional spark when things feel too off-center. A deft production is enhanced by Danny Elfman's score as Burton has the ability to hook into something fulfilling from the wonder of all the nonsense.

Big Fish

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