Big Fish (2003) (PG-13)

Watching "Big Fish" you can hardly tell that it's a work of Tim Burton. It's much more dignified and restrained that any of his other works. In fact, it's remarkably sentimental for the quirky director.
Edward Bloom is a man of stories, he's the one in the crowd that loves for people to turn and look at him. He spins yarns and fabricates glorious stories and people love him for it—almost all people. His son, Will, has heard the stories again and again and he's starting to dislike them. He believes that his father it too far into his own world to pay any attention to him. After a fight one night, he decides that he's not going to speak to his father.
This goes on for three years until he gets that call that no one wants to hear—his father is dying of cancer.
Will and his wife, Josephine, get their things together and make their way back to the Bloom house. Will wants reconciliation, he wants the real versions of events not tall tales that amuse but don't enlighten. He thinks that his father is wearing a facade and that he has never really been himself around Will.
Josephine and Edward bond and he starts telling her his life story. It's much like the story that opens the movie, a story about a big fish that could never be caught. It was rumored that no one could catch this fish because it contained the ghost of a robber. Edward was determined to catch the fish, so on the day his son was born he used his wedding ring as bait and caught the fish. Will doesn't believe the story because he knows that his father was away that day, out of town.
But Edward's life story is a big tale. It's hard to believe in its entirety but Josephine listens, intrigued by the strangeness of the man.
Edward is in deep, passionate love with his wife Sandra. The story of how they came to be together is both amusing and inspiring.
The most beautiful scene of the movie is when Edward has submerged himself in the bathroom tub. He has gotten into the water completely clothed, both he and his wife know that it won't be too much longer and he'll be gone. She walks into the room and climbs into the tub with him, in her dress. Albert Finney and Jessica Lange are the couple and they are stunning in their portrayal. Finney's role is larger and definitely the showier of the two; but Jessica Lange does a very good job. In this scene she simply gets in the tub without asking. She doesn't care about getting her clothes wet, she knows that this is a special moment and that there are not very many of those left. Edward pulls Sandra to him and holds her tight. It's very emotional and very un-Tim-Burton.
Edward's life is filled with bizarreness, a witch who has a glass eye that can tell the future, a giant who terrorizes the village, a pair of Siamese twins, and the perfect town. His life is like a fairy tale and he skips from one story to the next with no hesitation.
Ultimately the movie boils down to a relationship between and father and a son. It's very heartwarming and equally entertaining.
"Big Fish" is a delight to a wide audience.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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