When death invites you to be his guide to life, can you refuse?
Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) finds himself haunted by voices. As he approaches his 65th birthday and the huge party planned by his eldest daughter Allison (Marcia Gay Harden), he contemplates his own death, having lost his wife already.
His youngest daughter, Susan (Claire Forlani) meets a handsome young man one morning and is surprised to find the very same young man at her father’s dinner that evening, who Bill introduces as Joe Black (Brad Pitt).
What no one knows is that Joe is the spirit of Death, come to experience human life with Bill as his guide. Bill’s death is postponed, as long as Joe continues his experiences as a human and as long as Bill continues to be his guide.
But as Joe finds the all too human emotion of love stirred in his new form (borrowed by effectively killing the young man with a car) life for all concerned becomes problematic.
Bill now struggles with the news of his impending death, a hostile board takeover of his huge corporation and now Death itself has fallen in love with his daughter.
Nicely scripted and with excellent comic touches, Meet Joe Black allows the cast full reign. No special effects (oh, except that nerve jangling car accident at the beginning) and no longer scope to draw the audience away from the principle characters.
Yet, the film isn’t claustrophobic either. The live [sic] in a recognisable and functioning world with many others.
The central performance is of course Brad Pitt as Joe Black or Death. Very well played in that expert underdone way he has. some of his scenes are, well, inspired.
Experience and wise old head, Anthony Hopkins is marvellous as the patriarch desperate to protect his legacy, both his business and his daughters. When voicing over his own thoughts (or is it Death teasing?) he has the chance to sort of act opposite himself.
Then between them comes Claire Forlani, playing the youngest daughter – obviously falling for the spirit macabre. Her fiancée is played by Jake Weber (who I still get confused with Tim Roth), the same character is leading the boardroom takeover – ousting Parrish from his own company.
such circular, self contained movies can make great cinema and Meet Joe Black doesn’t disappoint.
The script and situation allows for some impressively humorous scenes, the innocence that Brad Pitt plays into the character draws you in like a young child. As I said – impressive.
It isn’t a classic or a truly great movie but it is en
Things to look out for: voices in your head, peanut butter, that car accident, boardroom scenes, secret meetings, Choosing cake, Death and taxes?, “I don’t think anyone will stay for dinner.”
Cast: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Claire Forlani, Jake Weber
Rating: comic and touching, recommended