Big Fish ★★★½

Big Fish is a story of stories, following Ed Bloom, a man with an imagination too big for the size of the town where he lives. Perfect as he is, he goes on journeys and helps people who are immediately drawn to him. Ed seems to always be in the right place at the right time, and everyone loves him and his stories. His stories don’t do so well with his son, though, who resents him for being gone all the time. He tends to roll his eyes every time his father starts telling a story because he knows its every detail and doubts there’s any truth to it.

As is the case with the son, it takes a while for Big Fish to win you over. Ed’s stories are a little too over-the-top and he’s a little too perfect. He can save towns, help friends find new vocations and become rich, marry the girl he loves years after he’s seen her for the first time and lost the chance to introduce himself. It’s all a little too much and a little too magical to be taken seriously, but isn’t that what stories are supposed to be? Ed may be a little too perfect, but his enthusiasm makes his experiences into larger-than-life epics that show how fantastic can life be when you never lose your sense of wonder.

Big Fish left me with a kind of wistful heaviness. As difficult as it was to accept its conventions in the beginning, I didn’t want to leave its world by the end. Life isn’t as wondrous as Ed sees it, but that’s what stories are for – to make the ordinary into extraordinary, and when everyone gathers around to listen to a story, life is the best it can be.

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