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starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange
screenplay by John August, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace
directed by Tim Burton
by Walter Chaw Tim Burton treads the territory of America as grand cinema in his best films, and Big Fish, while not among them, leads the director back to their territory, the modest fairy tales of grotesquerie of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, even the underestimated Batman Returns and Sleepy Hollow. Big Fish finds Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney) on his deathbed, spinning tall yarns about his life to the irritation of estranged son Will (Billy Crudup), who wishes to "know" his real father without understanding that the fabric of personal fiction is the whole cloth of a man. At question is the very nature of storytelling and folklore, a question that gains primacy when asked by strangers (even those like Edward, who only see themselves as strangers, too big for the mundane) in a strange land. Steeped in magic realism, Burton's picture loses steam in its constant switching from past to present, but gains in a treatment of grief and the grieving that announces a maturation of the sad moods of the director at his finest.