Friday Flicks: Big Fish

A review of a book to film adaptation. 

Over the course of his career, Tim Burton has established himself as one of Hollywood's leading directors. His fantastic, often dark and macabre visions are combined with a knack for telling compelling stories that audiences relate to. In his adaptation of Dan Wallace's novel, Big Fish, he puts forth an unusually lighter film that is arguably his most personal.

The film begins with the elder Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) speaking about the day of his son Will's (Billy Crudup) birth. While his wife was busy giving birth, Edward was out catching the largest, uncatchable fish that you can imagine. Will, now grown up, struggles with his father's penchant for telling "Tall Tales" and claims that he has no idea who his father really is. Edward continues to tell that fantastical story of his youth and the events that lead to him meeting his wife.

During this time, Burton employs small flashbacks, vignettes that show each of Bloom's stories, with Ewan McGregor portraying the young Edward. Burton's visual aesthetic gives these stories a Southern Gothic flair that makes them each seem just a bit beyond reality.

Will continues to struggle with his father's tales, claiming that it is impossible to know who his father really is. This causes a three year rift in their relationship that doesn't end until Will receives the news that his father has had a life-threatening stroke. When Will comes to the ailing Edward's hospital bed, he realizes that his father's life has been defined by the stories he tells. With this realization, he begins to tie up all of the ends of his father's tales, repairing their broken relationship.

This is probably Tim Burton's deepest emotional movie. Each character is given a strong arch, allowing Burton's visual pyrotechnics to be matched by emotional revelations that are equally spectacular. The tall tales lend themselves to the fairy tale style that the film inhabits, creating an exceptional adaptation of Wallace's novel, and a delightfully satisfying film.

Have you read the novel or seen the movie? If so, what did you think of it? What book adaptations would you like to see as a future Friday Flicks post?

This entry was posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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