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the Watch The Favor and the Very Big Fish Movie Review

sybil goldblum richardson hoskins

The Favor, the Watch, and the Very Big Fish might have been a screwball comedy for the early 1990s, if anyone had drifted into movie theatres to see it. It stars three endearing actors, Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum, and Natasha Richardson, as three strangers who drift into an intriguing romantic triangle. Along the way, writer/director Ben Lewin (who based his film on the Marcel Ayme short story, “Rue Saint-Sulpice”) pokes gentle fun at voiceover artists for pornographic films, the folks who manufacture religious art objects, and star-crossed lovers. Hoskins plays Louis Aubinard, an innocent (and virginal) French photographer who is looking for the ideal Jesus to pose for a series of devotional illustrations. After an idyllic chance meeting with a voiceover artist named Sybil (Richardson), he manages to connect with a former piano player played by Goldblum, who is still suffering after the death of his long-dead mother and also from the loss of the idyllic love of his life, a one-time waitress named Sybil. Yes, it's the same Sybil. For the rest of the movie, Sybil searches for each man so she can explain why she appears to have jilted him, the piano player suffers agonies because he suspects that his photographer friend Louis loves Sybil, and Louis stolidly remains a loyal friend to his new model while hoping against hope that he will one day be reunited with Sybil. The fun is watching the three leads at work. At one point, Hoskins exclaims with a perfectly straight face, “I'm not a great actor!,” a line ONLY a great actor could safely deliver. As in his previous British films, The Tall Guy and Mister Frost, Goldblum chews the scenery in another bizarre role that only he could render plausible. The much-underrated Natasha Richardson is delightful as Sybil and a great supporting cast (Angela Pleasence, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Michel Blanc as Louis’ martinet employer) make The Favor, the Watch, and the Very Big Fish a pleasure to watch. (If you're easily offended by borderline satire, you can always watch Bing Crosby on video as Father O'Malley!)

1992 (R) 89m/C GB FR Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum, Natasha Richardson, Michel Blanc, Jacques Villeret, Angela Pleasence, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Bruce Altman; D: Ben Lewin; W: Ben Lewin; C: Bernard Zitzermann; M: Vladimir Cosma. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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