Thursday, February 12, 2004

Hey! I can see your brain from here.

The annual film festival Pelikula at Lipunan premiered Tim Burton's latest movie, Big Fish last night at the SM Megamall. The movie tells the story of Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) coming home to finally try and reconcile with his dad Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) who was dying from cancer. It's been years since they last talked to each other after an argument and this was his last chance to finally get to find out the answers he's been looking for. He's accompanied by his wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) and welcomed home by his mother Sandra (Jessica Lange).

As the story unfolds we see that Ed liked to tell tales about himself starting from the day he was born 'till the day he retired from work. And this is where the problem lies, his son never knew who the person really was behind those stories. He laments to one of his father's friends, "There were a lot of things my Dad talked about and never did, as well as a lot of things he did which he never talked about. I need to reconcile the two". The tales are take the form of flashbacks with the successful young Ed (Ewan McGregor) living in a small town doing everything he's called to or volunteered to do in a perfect way. When he came of age he dreamed of going to the big city and so he goes with the blessings of his townmates. He goes through a fantastic adventure along the way meeting an assortment of odd characters like the gentle giant who lives in a cave (Matthew McGrory), the barefoot residents of an immaculate town hidden town in the swamp, a poet with a writer's block (Steve Buscemi), a circus with a werewolf (Danny DeVito) for a ringmaster, and singing siamese twins Ping and (Jing) (Ada and Arlene Tai) among others. He also meets his would-be wife (Alison Lohman stars as the young Sandra) and though she was already engaged to someone else he goes to extreme lengths to woo her.

Are they true or not? His son Will tries to sift through the stories to try and understand his father. He is going to be a father himself in a couple of months and he feels he cannot be an effective one if he doesn't succeed in understanding who his father was. One's coming from a side that wants the truth no matter how factual or cold it is while the other reasons out that he was telling the truth in his own way. It's interesting to note that author Daniel Wallace says he was inspired to write the story in part because of his own charismatic father and the recent development of him being a dad himself and Director Tim Burton drew on his own experience in making the movie, saying that "the theme of child-parent reconciliation in 'Big Fish' fed his interest in the story, especially since it never really happened for him in real life." Ed Bloom was an inimitable storyteller and a charming man, that's how he is. He never intended to hurt anyone, most especially his son, but owing to his sanguine nature he couldn't be as close to anyone as he wanted (except maybe his wife). And though death was already there claiming him he couldn't just very well leave without his son reaching out and finding the truth for himself. In doing so Will finally found out that in the center of these stories he heard throughout his life lies the very heart of his father and his identity as his father's son.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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