A three hour film about death. It doesn't sound like much when you say it like that, but trust me, Meet Joe Black is an outstanding film and is without doubt one of the most underrated little gems I have ever seen. The film is beautiful in every regards; the photography, the sets, the music and the performances, especially the performances. The last time Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt were on screen together it was the equally sublime Legends of the Fall, here it is another sublime film and once again they are putting in some of their best work. The characters that they play, Bill Parrish and Death, bring out a fantastic chemistry between the two performers, especially in the more comedic moments when they two are getting to know each other. However, while death is the main theme of the film, director Martin Brest remembers to filter optimism into his wonderful tale in the shape of a love story between Parrish's daughter (played by the beautiful Claire Forlani) and Death himself. This results in one of the most gorgeous coupling in recent years as well as one of the most erotically intense love scenes I have ever watched.
Director Brest presents the film in a more artistically filtered view than most other directors might have done. The love scene is done without nudity with close ups on the actors throughout. The striking presentation of the lighting in the film is also fantastic, with a lovely golden glow pouring of the screen and lastly Thomas Newman's music is quite simply marvelous. Films like The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty which have featured music by this outstanding composer have been enhanced by the haunting, lyrical and moving melodies he has composed and this film is no exception. The mixture of piano and orchestra builds to an uplifting and emotional pull that cements his position as one of the best music composers working in modern film today.
The three hour running time would appears to be problematic, but alas it is not. In fact like another sweeping romantic epic, Titanic, you will not feel the time going in. The three hours fly by and not only that, like the Oscar winning epic, this is a film that makes one instantly want to re-watch it again and again. Meet Joe Black is a wonderful mixture of comedy, romance and drama and is done exceedingly well. Brad Pitt puts in one of his finest performances as Death finds himself enchanted by human emotions and then finds himself making a deeply human choice at the end of the film and then there is Hopkins. One of cinema's finest actors no matter what he is in, he shows with his complex range of emotions in his performance there is more to him than playing Hannibal Lecter. His performance here restrained and quite frankly very well done. It is perhaps one of his best acting performances. His Shakespeare background obviously coming in handy for a film that contains many a Shakespearean like moment.
The film, while not a flop, was not the box office hit that was expected, especially considering the main casting, but if you can make up your own mind, do watch Meet Joe Black. This is a wonderful film and is a personal favorite of mine.