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Martin Brest's  Meet Joe Black
Sooner or later, you will...

Look who's coming to dinner?

What a long movie.... is about all you will hear if you listen to people whispering when leaving the theater.

It took nearly 3 hours (2 hours and 58 seconds, to be precise) for Anthony Hopkins to finally meet who is behind Joe Black.

If some movies are intense because of their fascinating dialogues, this one will strike mostly by its silences. The artistic expected effects seemed to have been shadowed by a strict direction, and you spend long moments wondering what they are trying to show you.

The Story : Death takes a holiday

Death is here, and death gets a name for himself: Joe Black. He also gets a pretty face: Brad Pitt’s.

Death comes to Earth because William Parrish attracted him. W.P. is a media tycoon who managed to follow a strong ethical path while keeping up an exciting life. His family life is also admirable. His beloved wife died and the man is worshipped by his two daughters (Allison and Susan).

Death has a growing curiosity for human way of life. He feels lonely and when he comes to claim W.P. 's soul,  decides to postpone W.P.‘s departure for as long as he could be entertained. Death takes a holiday.

As we go along

The most remarkable scene is surely the one that takes place within the first 15 minutes. A formidable stunt catching everyone’s heart. Brad Pitt, who just happened to have met Susan Parrish in a coffee-shop,  is hit by a  truck, then a car. The shock is unexpected, rapid and leaves you with a question: What happened?

Apart from the violence of this scene, do not expect to be shaken in any way or at any time during this long movie. The pace is slowing down dramatically, and many scenes will call on you for reading what is not said, understanding looks, glances etc… You might even regret you are not reading the book, it is sometimes so demanding. But the conversations are not gratuitous, everything seems to have been measured and you find yourself taken aback every time, for having judge too fast a line as just being a space-filling ornament .

The plot is rather interesting: the alleged take over of Parrish Media group by a less scrupulous businessman and the complicity of the old man's right hand -- son-in-law-to-be -- in the scam. William Parrish is a talented person, an intriguing mix of success, respect and emotion. He steals away the movie with the convey of his questioning: did he live his life at the fullest? Should he have reasons to be scared for what is coming next, for what he leaves behind.

One can also be amused by to see Death trying to "blend in", to adjust to all the new things he encounters: doors, beds, food, people, feelings.

There are also a few nice scenes in the hospital with an island old lady (Lois Kelly-Miller) who recognizes Death. Their dialogue exchange is poignant, their complicity, carried by the Creole language they use, is moving.

"We're lonely here mostly too. If we are lucky, we get to take some nice 
 pictures with us when we go" she says.

"You get some nice pictures to take, Sister?"

"Oh, yeah!"


Brad Pitt : Joe Black, Death
Anthony Hopkins : William Parrish
Claire Forlani : Susan Parrish
Marcia Gay Harden : Allison Parrish
Jeffrey Tambor : Allison's husband, Quincy
Jake Weber : Drew, the right hand man

My Critics

Brad Pitt is always a nice view, I am sure many people agree with me. I wonder why so many critics are complaining about the special shades on his best profile or the love scene and try to evaluate how convincing he was. Well, I think the love scene should have been wiped out. In this already very long movie, it really drags on and gets you bored. I am female too but no, I did not faint watching Brad being undressed! Did you? 

As for Joe Black's performance, I have noticed a very unequal acting.  Sometimes terribly odd, at other times, exactly "in". But this also goes with the character of Death being personified, a little childish, stubborn, but powerful and "deadly".

Anthony Hopkins is just as we expected him. Full of passions and emotions, which he conveys out to us with shine. His character is strong and easy to relate to: a man contemplating his past.

Claire Forlani comes out as a nice and friendly doctor, since she does not get a lot of space anyway. Besides, she is given an easy task, falling in love with Death with Brad Pitt's face and body, but she’s trying her best to convince us it is more than just the looks.

As a conclusion I would like to remind you that the movie is a remake of a 1934 Mitchell Leisen's film "Death Takes a Holiday".

Claire Avril



Quotes on Death

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