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Meet Joe Black (1998)
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Review Date: November 18, 1998
Director: Martin Brest
Writer: Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade, Bo Goldman
Producers: Martin Brest
Actors:
Brad Pitt as Joe Black/ Death
Claire Forlani as Susan Parrish
Plot:
Death comes to Earth and injects itself into the form of a human body (Pitt) in order to learn more about human beings and life in general. He chooses an extremely successful and rich man, William Parrish (Hopkins) to be his guide through this journey, up until the time he chooses to end it, at which point, he will take the 65-year old Parrish with him. What's the quirk in his plans? Mr. Parrish also has a gorgeous daughter, to which Death gradually takes a liking.
Critique:
Despite it being too long, too slow, and not all together believable, this film still manages to whip up a kernel of cinematic magic with the wonderful performances by its leads, the beautiful scenery and a touching father-daughter subplot. Folks, before you read any more of this review, please appreciate the fact that this film truly feeeeels like three hours! Most of the scenes seem to go on for too long, the dialogue between the actors is constantly interrupted by long spurts of silence and ambiguous gazes, and the overall feel of the film is slow, slow and slow. Having said that, I might recommend this film for video-watchers, who have the prerogative to watch the film at their own leisure, and even forward the boring parts, or rewind the whispering parts (Most of which were too low to comprehend.)

That aside, the film's actual story line is sort of original, but not taken full advantage of. They basically just make Death feel like a "fish out of water" character which we've already seen done to death (no pun intended) in many a better film. As Death, Brad Pitt is good, but his character is really quite annoying and slow. His counterpart, the mousy Claire Forlani is also quite decent in her role, but their romance never really grabbed me by the throat (They might have wanted to pursue the "coffee shop" scene's ambience further in this script...). Her boyfriend in the film is also played well by actor Jake Weber, but for some reason, he downshifts into a completely one-dimensional character about halfway through this voyage. Anthony Hopkins is also great as the patriarch of this super-rich family, while managing to authenticate true feelings of his power and humanity. Jeffrey Tambor is also funny in the role of the comic-relief loser.

I must say that the conclusion of this film also left me dry in the enthusiasm department, as Death's departure from Earth was somewhat anticlimactic. And I don't care how high you jam your bombastic musical score, Mr. Brest, you will not make me cry solely on the basis of blood gushing out of my eardrums!! All in all, the film does not succeed on most fronts. It's too long, waaaaay too slow, and kind of flaky as a romance. On the other hand, if you don't mind long or slow movies, like staring at beautiful people and images for 3 hours, and are interested in the father-daughter relationship angle, which is quite well done in this film, then by all means, check this movie out...on video! And oh yeah, I never like to reveal plot points in my reviews, but just this once I'll tell you a little something that might juice this film up for you..........................are you ready?.....................................Death gets laid!!
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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