Big Fish is a 2003 fantasy film and quite possibly Tim Burton’s masterpiece. Billy Crudup stars as William Bloom, a writer who is trying to connect with his dying father. He feels like his relationship with his dad is like two strangers who happen to know each other extremely well. The problem is that William was never able to connect with his father. His father was a traveling salesman with a passion for telling tall tales and embellishing the truth, and he feels like he never knew the real person behind the stories.
The film is framed by an elderly Edward Bloom (played by Albert Finney) who is bedridden and slowly fading away. The story flashes back to a younger Edward (played by Ewan McGregor) doing fantastic things and having amazing adventures. He meets a giant, a werewolf, Siamese twins, a witch, and has a few encounters with a particularly big fish. On the surface this is a modern fairy tale. But it’s really about reconciliation. Edward and William have a broken relationship. Everything Edward ever told William was embellished and elaborated. William thinks that everything his father told him was a lie. They are bonded by blood but don’t have much in common.
This film is more sophisticated than Tim Burton’s other films. It’s more adult and decidedly less gothic. There is a great supporting cast including Jessica Lange, Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, and apparently a young Miley Cyrus. Helena Bonham Carter is in it too and Danny Elfman provides the score. Johnny Depp is the only Burton Regular who doesn’t show up. I guess there wasn’t a part for a pale pedophile. This is the type of movie that you can watch with your parents and feel like you’ve bonded. Real art effects emotion. This film is art.
Critically Rated at 14/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young