DIRECTED BY Tim Burton
STARRING Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange
Opens January 23, Cert PG, 125 mins
Two years after his pointless remake of Planet Of The Apes, Tim Burton is back on form with Big Fish, the most narratively accomplished, emotionally resonant movie of his career to date.
Based on Daniel Wallace’s novel, Big Fish is the tall tale of Edward Bloom (Finney), a big man in a small Midwestern town. Bloom is a consummate storyteller, renowned for the oft-told yarns of his apparently incredible exploits. These elaborate adventures have endeared the ailing raconteur to everyone he knows apart from his son, William (Crudup), who feels his father’s outlandish tales have prevented him from getting to know the real man behind them. As the elder Bloom nears the end of his life, father and son attempt to rebuild their relationship and come to terms with each other against a background of mythic flashbacks (played out by McGregor as the younger Bloom).
The two leads are inspired choices?Finney is at his twinkly-eyed, curmudgeonly best as the elder Bloom, while McGregor rediscovers the movie star in himself after seven post-Trainspotting years of lazy, self-satisfied performances. His spirited, endlessly optimistic young Edward is a triumph of grinning charisma, equally at home battling giants, parachuting behind enemy lines or discovering ghostly villages. The movie represents a major step forward for Burton. Bloom’s freewheeling adventures through the looking glass are as quirkily entertaining as you’d expect from a man who thrives on celebrating the freakish kinks in the heart of US suburbia. But this movie’s real triumph lies in its unexpected emotional maturity. Father/son relationships are a recurring motif in Burton’s work, but here Finney and Crudup transcend their wondrous quasi-mythological surroundings and deliver a climax that forgoes light-hearted whimsy for profound emotional truth. This understated, affecting portrait of a son’s love for his father (and vice versa) will stay with you long after the end credits roll. Big Fish is a unique, atmospheric fantasia with real heart. See it and shed an unembarrassed tear.