December 12, 2003

Big Fish

By Jose Daniel Bort

This is Tim Burton at its best. This pitch perfect nostalgic comedy fuses effortlessly fact and fiction to the point a completely new reality is created. Garcia Marquez used the same technique in his famous “100 years of solitude”. Many filmmakers (Marquez himself) have tried to translate this into film, with mild to awful results. Burton’s take into the sub-genre is the best I have ever seen.

The cast is flawless. Albert Finney and Ewan Mc Gregor double on Edward Bloom; a charismatic hell of a character that, a la Willy Loman, traveled for a living and uses to exaggerate every story he engages an audience in. The most annoyed audience member is his son Will Bloom, who embarks in a quest for the true official story now that his dad in his deathbed. The object of Ed’s attention is Sandy, with Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman showing off bravura performances on their respective time duties.

However, there are many characters in Ed’s life that their veracity is in question. Will’s search forced him to find a possible mistress, Jenny (played by Helena Bonham Carter), business associates Norther Winslow and Amos (Steve Buscemi and Danny de Vito) and even conjoined twins Ping and Jing (Ada and Arlene Tai) along the way, not knowing how real these characters are. His father doesn’t want to tell him for sure, or doesn’t really care. The climax has been called from the beginning of the story, but it still melts hearts away with this father-son universal tell of two generations at stake with each other.

Burton uses suggestion rather than impose his way in most of the story twists. Danny Elfman’s score takes over the entire first hour, practically covering up the story. It’s almost impossible to disassociate Burton’s imagery with Elfman’s style, since the composer has scored each one of Burton’s films. Dennis Gassner Sets are as Burtonians as they could, setting the tone for the moving script that young screenwriter extraordinaire, John August (“Go”), did of the Daniel Wallace Story. It takes a genius to surround oneself with all these outrageous and talented people. Oscar worthy, all of them, all the way.

4 stars

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