Big Fish Tim Burton

Big Fish Tim Burton
We may never have had a father (or grandfather) like Edward Bloom, but the iconography of the mad, adventuresome elder whose adventures spread across lands now vanished from our landscape is what springs forth from dull childhoods. Not so for Will (Billy Crudup), a man who's tired of his father's exaggerated fantasies, as his father Edward (in one incarnation, Albert Finney) lies dying, Will yearns for some truth, a hook of facts that he can hang the reality of his father's life on. But Edward Bloom has never been so contained; his life's tale unfolds through a series of vignettes, which we follow to the letter in the form of Ewan McGregor's younger Bloom — tales of giants, witches and mysterious heavenly towns hidden in the forests of Arkansas. Billy Crudup has the hardest task in this Tim Burton film — to be the sceptic in the face of Bloom's imagination, to love his father while bottling the frustration he feels at their silent, unconnected relationship. But Ewan McGregor has no walk in the park (and through the haunted forest, on to the circus) — he is forced to move through the film looking all the world like comic character Archie, with a wide grin and no sense of his destiny. But his is only a life being told and Big Fish makes him the star of his own movie, but never its agent. He is only a vehicle for the more complex and finely rendered performance of Finney, as a man whose real life has been reduced to these well-worn tales. Given the film's mythological resonance and the ambitious and visionary man behind it, Tim Burton remains cagey. Big Fish offers plenty in the way of "extras" — numerous featurettes outline different aspects of production, from the authorship of the book to make-up and camera tricks — but it's only so much smoke and mirrors. Even a full-length commentary by Burton is conducted as an interview, leaving no room for spontaneous observation or perspective from Burton as a viewer. The film is a stunner to watch, no doubt, but when it comes to getting a handle on some clearer answers, this Fish turns out to be pretty slippery. Plus: trivia quiz, previews, more. (Columbia Tristar)