Thursday, September 08, 2005

Movie Review: Big Fish

Per a co-worker's recommendation, I recently rented the movie Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton. This story is told from the perspective of a father and his estranged son in the last days of the father's life. The son realizes that he's been told so many dramatic and unbelievable stories by his father that he has no sense of what his father's life has truly been like. His father's mythical tales involve siamese twins and a giant (just to give you a sense of how far-out-there they are). These fantasies are woven into the main storyline. When reunited by his mother with his father, he is only given more vibrant stories when seeking the truth. But the way that the two finally come together in the end was quite touching.

This movie is a great example of a life review, which is such a huge part of the end of life process for many people approaching their death. Though this movie gives this process an interesting twist - it is the son who is going on this journey through his father's life rather than the father himself.

The moment of death was a bit unrealistic. I have yet to see someone suddenly stop talking and then peacefully close their eyes and nod their head to the side. But I suppose within the artistic context of a fantasy-based film, it worked.

My one big complaint with this movie was when the doctor says, "I hate when people talk to patients who can't hear them." In end-of-life nursing care, we always tell families to assume that the patient can hear. When people come out of comas, they frequently report that they were able to hear - and they often recall things that were said. So we always emphasize that hearing and touch are the last senses to go. This line has the potential to miseducate anyone who sees this film and may make it more difficult for people who, as it is, may have been shy about talking to someone who can't talk back to them.

But some things that I liked about this film - it was very playful and silly. I'd never seen a tasteful film that was able to successfully incorporate light humor into the subject of death and dying as was done in this film.

Has anyone else seen this film? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

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