Reviews | Written by Gareth Evans 27/06/2018

BIG FISH & BEGONIA

Big Fish & Begonia tells the tale of Chun, a girl from another world who, when visiting ours, is saved by a human boy at the cost of his own life, then decides to bring him back. In another movie that might have been the whole plot, but it only describes this film's set up. The meat of the narrative takes place after she has brought his soul back from death (in the form of a fish she names Kun), and explores their bonding and the consequences of Chun's actions.

When the film works, it really works. Chun is a sympathetic character with easily understood motivations, her friend Qiu is an example of unrequited love that doesn't venture into "nice guy" territory, and Kun is a wonderfully expressive character, despite spending most of the movie as a fish without dialogue. Most importantly, the movie is able to hit the emotional notes it is aiming for.

The movie's main failings are in its plot structure and pacing. The set-up is perfect, establishing the characters and what drives them. However, once it hits the middle point it starts to lose its focus; it finds it again a scene or two later, but this part of the movie feels less cohesive than what comes before or after it. The film reaches a point which feels like the ending, and then keeps going. Emotionally speaking the payoff is there, but the mechanics of the plot don't gel as smoothly as they could.

The movie has two main special features on offer. The first is a look behind the scenes, and it does something a bit different. Big Fish & Begonia spent a long time in development, and its creation is explored within the context of when certain milestones happened. It gives a great sense of how much time and work went into making the movie a reality. It is supplemented quite nicely by the second feature, the short movie from 2004 which led to this film's creation. Viewing them together serve to show just how far this movie has come, and what its success means to its creators.

Big Fish & Begonia might stumble once or twice when it comes to building its plot, but it more than succeeds at conveying the emotions of its story. It is a beautifully told story with compelling characters and a vibrant, colourful world. The emotional impact is matched by getting to see how it was made, the bonus Making Of centring on the human element of the movie's production whilst still being informative. Animation lovers should definitely watch it!

Special Features: Making Of / Big Fish & Begonia short (2004)

BIG FISH & BEGONIA / CERT: PG / DIRECTORS: XUAN LIANG, CHUN ZHANG / SCREENWRITERS: DANIEL CHUBA, XUAN LIANG / STARRING: STEPHANIE SHEH, TODD HABERKORN, JOHNNY YONG BOSCH, GREG CHUN, CASSANDRA MORRIS, FONG SHUNG / RELEASE DATE: 9th JULY