United Press International journalist Will Bloom and his French freelance photojournalist wife Josephine Bloom, who is pregnant with their first child, leave their Paris base to return to Will's hometown of Ashton, Alabama on the news that his father, Edward Bloom, stricken with cancer, will soon die, he being taken off chemotherapy treatment. Although connected indirectly through Will's mother/Edward's wife, Sandra Bloom, Will has been estranged from his father for three years since his and Josephine's wedding. Will's issue with his father is the fanciful tales Edward has told of his life all his life, not only to Will but the whole world. As a child when Edward was largely absent as a traveling salesman, Will believed those stories, but now realizes that he does not know his father, who, as he continues to tell these stories, he will never get to know unless Edward comes clean with the truth before he dies. On the brink of his own family life beginning, Will does not want to be the ...Written by
I am at a total loss to describe it. The concept itself, a son tries to come to terms with his dying father that he knows nothing about but an enormous catalog of unbelievable stories, doesn't sound very promising. It sounds like a tired old formula, and I expected such when the rental started playing
Werewolves, giants, witches, siamese twins, bank robbers, hidden cities, sirens, etc. are all present in the fantasy, but they seem unremarkably to be part of the life of an otherwise ordinary traveling salesman. Whether they really are or not is never made completely clear, but that's the rub.
I once read a review by Harlan Ellison in which the main point was how a well told lie illuminates the truth in far better clarity than a simple recitation of the facts ever can. At one point in the film, the questing son remarks to his bed-ridden father that he's heard all of his stories thousands of times, and he has know idea who his father really is. The father's reply is, `I've never been anybody but me from the day I was born. If you don't know who I am, that's your failing, not mine.' Later investigations make the point clearer. I'll bet Ellison loved this movie. It is an extraordinary lie.
Did I like the film? You bet. It's Tim Burton's best work without a doubt. Is it for everybody? Probably not. Many will find it confusing and pointless, but good fantasy is like that. All I can say is, relax and let it happen. You won't regret it.
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