An Inuit hunter races his sled home with a fresh-caught halibut. This fish pervades the entire film, in real and imaginary form. Meanwhile, Axel tags fish in New York as a naturalist's gofer. He's happy there, but a messenger arrives to bring him to Arizona for his uncle's wedding. It's a ruse to get Axel into the family business. In Arizona, Axel meets two odd women: vivacious, needy, and plagued by neuroses and familial discord. He gets romantically involved with one, while the other, rich but
Celebrated Yugoslav director Kusturica comes to America to paint a lavish picture populated by a stunning cast and fuelled by impossible dreams. Every scene in this bizarre fusion of art and stardom is a joy to behold, searing its mark in the memory by blurring the line between real and surreal.
Everyone in this picture dreams. Axel Blackmar (Depp) is a naive young man enraptured by visions of flying fish and the frozen wastes of Alaska. When plucked from his job in New York and taken, drunk and sleeping, to Arizona, he throws himself into other peoples dreams. His friend and kidnapper Paul (Vincent Gallo) claims to be an actor. His Uncle Leo (a larger than life Lewis) wants, nay insists, Depp be his best man and then take over the used car dealership which he owns. Seemingly powerless to resist, Depp one day tries to sell a car to Elaine (an awesome Dunaway) who wants to fly and meets her malcontent step-daughter Grace (Taylor) who wants to die and become a turtle.
As the spectacularly understated Depp falls for the deliciously dotty Dunaway, and attempts to get her airborne in a series of improbable flying machines, the sparks fly between Dunaway and Taylor, Dunaway and Lewis, Lewis and Depp. All the while Kusturicas visuals cosset like a warm blanket and David Atkins script positively crackles with irony, absurd comedy and conflict. All set against a middle-American blandscape teeming with symbolism.
The film is overlong and requires its watcher to accept its utter lack of reality, culminating in an uncomfortable anticlimax, where Depp grows tired of dreams and seeks a more practical option. All of this, however, is long outlived by the sheer joy of watching and dreaming your way through the rest of the movie.
Bold and beautiful ideas perfectly realised