Big Fish

2006-03-30 12:21

A web-like tapestry woven of stories both real and exaggerated, Big Fish is the story of Edward Bloom and those who love him. Even if he doesn't always believe every word he says, for Edward it's all in the telling.

As an eight-year old confined to bed, Edward occupies himself by reading the entire World Book Encyclopedia. He is taken with an article about goldfish, in which he learns that "if goldfish are kept in a small bowl, they will remain small. With more space, the fish can double, triple or quadruple its size."

Ten years later, after becoming one of the most popular young men in town, he realizes that, like the goldfish, in order for him to grow he must leave home and explore the world. As he confides to his new friend Karl the Giant, "You think this town is too small for you? Well, it's too small for a man of my ambition. I love every square inch of it. But I can feel the edges closing in on me. A man's life can only grow to a certain size in a place like this."

And thus, an improbable and mythic journey begins.

Many years and countless adventures later, Bloom (Albert Finney) is well known as a teller of tall tales about his colourful life as a less than ordinary young man (Ewan McGregor), when his wanderlust took him around the world and back again. His mythic exploits range from the delightful to the surreal, interweaving epic sagas about giants and werewolves, conjoined Korean lounge singers, a witch with a glass eye that can see the future - and of course, a big fish that refuses to be caught.

Bloom's fabled stories charm everyone he encounters except his son Will (Billy Crudup). When Edward becomes ill and his wife, Sandra (Jessica Lange), tries to reconcile them, Will embarks on his own personal journey trying to separate the myth from the reality of his father's life and come to terms with the man's giant feats and great failings.

What the critics are saying:

"...feelgood without being overly sentimental; romantic without being cloying; moving without being mawkish."
- Adrian Hennigan, BBCi Films

"Big Fish is so strange and so literary that audiences seeking conventional fare may get impatient with it. But it always takes effort to catch the big ones. This one is worth it."
- Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

"The most curious thing about this magical-realist fable ... is how thin and soft it is, how unpersuasive and ultimately forgettable even its most strenuous inventions turn out to be."
- A.O. Scott, New York Times

Director Tim Burton is back in form with this charming fantasy tale about the bond between a teller of tall stories and his sceptical son.

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