It has always baffled me how much critics mocked this heartwarming and moving film when it was released. Directed by Martin Brest, “Meet Joe Black” tells the story of Bill Parrish, a soon-to-be 65-year-old media mogul whose time on Earth is coming to an end. Death appears to Bill in the form of a handsome young man (Brad Pitt), who comes to terms with Bill after falling in love with Bill’s relationship with his daughter, Susan (Claire Forlani). In exchange for more time in this life, Bill will act as Death’s guide on Earth.
Sure, there are too many cloying moments and the film moves at a snail’s pace, but underneath all that languid syrup is a film rich with thoughtful dialogue about life and our place in the world. The idea that Death wants to learn painstakingly about what makes life worth living is fascinating, and Pitt’s and Hopkins’ performances elevate the script to undeserved heights. “Meet Joe Black” isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but its meditation on life, loss, and love deserves far more attention and praise than it received.