Meet Joe Black: Hopkins Meets Pitt
Directed by Martin Brest (Scent of a Woman), Meet Joe Black is loosely based on the 1934 Death Takes a Holiday. Death, in the form of Brad Pitt comes to take the life of media mogul William Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) on the eve of Parrish's 65th birthday. But Death offers Parrish a reprieve if Parrish will act as his guide to earthly life for a few days. In so doing, Death, in the guise of Joe Black, meets and falls in love with Parrish's younger daughter, a doctor named Susan (Claire Forlani).
Hopkins and Pitt share a real, affectionate, chemistry together. Just as he did with Antonio Banderas in this summer's Zorro, Hopkins shines as a father figure. The twinkle in Hopkins' eyes shows what a loving a father he has been to his daughters. He extends that same affection to Joe Black.
Parrish's scenes with his daughters, especially older daughter Allison (Marcia Gay Harden), and Brad Pitt glow. As a benevolent mogul, Hopkins also hits the mark. He attacks his role as CEO with real zeal and shows the twinkle can cut both ways.
Pitt plays Death as an innocent with an occasional glimmer of mischief. That glimmer saves Pitt's performance and makes the audience realize that his Death is more than just a simplistic dolt. Ironically, playing Death gives Pitt a chance to show his fun side, and he makes the most of the opportunity. And Pitt is utterly convincing as he makes love for the first time. His love scenes with Claire Forlani will take your breath away.
Otherwise, Forlani doesn't leave much of a mark. Her scenes with Pitt sparkle, but she isn't called upon to do much more. Harden as the less loved Allison is the real scene stealer, and her relationship with Hopkins wrenches the heart. Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show) as her hapless husband matches Harden note for note.
Despite an overly long story and the oh so heavy-handed score of Thomas Newman, Meet Joe Black succeeds. And that's because Brad Pitt meets Anthony Hopkins.
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