Meet Joe Black is a 1998 American romantic fantasy movie directed and produced by Martin Brest and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and Claire Forlani. The screenplay by Bo Goldman, Kevin Wade, Ron Osborne, and Jeff Reno is loosely based on the 1934 movie Death Takes a Vacation, an adaptation of Albert Casella’s 1924 Italian play La Morte in Vacanza.
As Bill is about to turn 65, his daughter Alison is throwing him a party. Alison’s part id performed by actress Marcia Gay Harden. We also see her sister, Susan Parrish, in the film. Claire Forlani will reprise her role. Susan is in a relationship with Drew. Drew is one of Bill’s board members. Bill considers Susan marrying Drew, but sees that she is not that deeply in love. As the company helicopter lands, Bill hears a very mysterious voice. Now, know about the Meet Joe Black movie.
Meet Joe Black: Movie Synopsis
Media mogul Bill Parrish is considering a merger with another media giant. Meanwhile, his eldest daughter Alison is preparing an elaborate 65th birthday party for him. His younger daughter Susan, who works in internal medicine, is in a relationship with Drew, one of Bill’s board members.
As Bill contemplates marriage, Bill sees that Susan is not deeply in love, he suggests she wait to be swept off of her feet, suggesting that “lightning might strike”. When the company helicopter lands, he hears a mysterious voice that he tries to ignore. When Bill arrives at his office, he has a sharp pain in his chest and hears the voice again saying, “Yes.”
While studying in a cafe, Susan meets a lively young man who also says that lightning might strike their relationship. Stunned, she leaves without getting his name. Unbeknownst to her, he was fatally hit by several cars immediately afterward.
That evening, Bill hears the voice again and it summons him, so Bill meets him alone in the room. He slowly materializes, identifies himself as Death, and is now in the body of a young man. Death explains that his passionate speech to his daughter piqued his interest. Due to Bill’s “competence, experience, and wisdom”, Death says that as long as Bill is his guide on Earth, Bill will not have to die.
The two return to the dinner table and, under pressure to introduce themselves, clumsily make up a name for Death and introduce him to the family as “Joe Black”. Joe Black, who has no sophisticated human characteristics, does not seem to know how to drink or eat, or how to use food and utensils. He later wanders around the palatial house to adjust. Susan tries to understand his intentions, noting that his nature is not the same as that of the man she met at the coffee shop.
Bill can’t stop events from quickly spiraling out of control. Drew secretly conspires with Parrish Communications and uses Bill’s strange behavior and reliance on Joe to convince the board to elect Bill as chairman. Using information from Bill’s son-in-law Quince, Drew pushes for approval of the merger, which Bill now opposes.
Intrigued by Joe’s naivety, Susan sees that he is very different from the young man she met at the coffee shop. She falls deeply in love, while Joe is now under the sway of human desires and magnetic attraction to her, and they make love. As they get dressed, Joe asks Susan, “What are we going to do now?” She replies, “It will come to us.” Bill inadvertently walks in and sees them kissing.
Bill angrily confronts Joe about his relationship with his daughter, and Joe declares his intention to take Susan with him. But at Susan’s hospital, Joe meets a terminally ill old woman who wishes to die. When he tells her he loves Susan, they understand who she is, they discuss the meaning of life, and she helps him understand that he is dangerously bridging two worlds.
As Bill’s birthday approaches, he asks Joe to recognize the meaning of true love, especially honesty and sacrifice. Joe realizes that he must put aside his own desire and allow Susan to live her life. Joe helps Bill regain control of his company, exposes Drew’s fraudulent business dealings to the board by claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service agent, and threatens Drew with prison.
At a party, knowing his death is imminent, Bill makes peace with his daughters. Susan tells Joe that she has loved him since the day at the coffee shop and he hints that his time is coming to an end. The realization that Susan loves an unknown man, not him, crushes him.
He won’t tell her who he really is, but she seems to sense something mystical about his identity. Susan struggles to understand the magnitude of their attraction and refuses to see Joe as Death. She sputters, “You’re… you’re Joe.” He promises, “You’ll always have what you found in the coffee shop. Thank you for loving me.”
In their father/daughter dance, Susan and Bill also say goodbye. Then, on the hill above the party, Bill asks Joe if he should be afraid. He replies, “He is not a man like you.” Fireworks explode in the distance as Susan watches Joe and her father cross the bridge at the top of the hill and out of sight on the other side.
Susan stands stunned as “Joe” reappears alone and confused. It’s the young man from the cafe again, unharmed and not understanding where he is. Susan senses that her father is gone, and the magnetism she shared with this young man has returned. “What will we do now?” she’s asking. “She’s coming to us,” he replies as they walk down the stairs hand in hand towards the party.
Meet Joe Black Ending, Explained: What Happened At The End?
The film begins when Death finally appears in the body of a young man. He meets Bill alone in the room. Death explains that the way Bill spoke to his daughter made him curious. He makes a deal with Bill, saying that if he agrees to lead Death to Earth, he will not bring Bill into his wrath. Bill awkwardly introduces Death to his family as Joe Black. Joe is not human and therefore has no sophistication or manners. Susan struggles to understand this new being.
Then we see Bill, who is having trouble keeping everything under control. As for Drew, he plays cards with the other council members to oust Bill as chairman. As for the merger that was going on in the beginning, Bill is now against it. Susan soon falls in love with Joe. Joe lives in a human body and has only human desires. He too falls in love with Susan and the two sleep together. Bill sees them and gets angry. Joe says he wants to take Susan with him.
At the hospital where Susan works, Joe encounters a sick old woman who realizes his true identity. The two discuss life and how Joe juggles both worlds. As Bill is now getting older with his 65th birthday on the list, he asks Joe to recognize the meaning of life and understand the concept of sacrifice and honesty. Joe then acknowledges his own desires. He also agrees not to marry Susan because it will shorten her life. Joe then exposes Drew and helps Bill gain control of his company.
At his 65th birthday party, we see Bill coming to terms with the fact that he will surely die one day. He will also make peace with his daughters. Susan then tells Joe that she has loved him since the day he met him at the coffee shop.
After he tells her the truth, Susan is devastated, knowing that it is the body of some random stranger who died that day, and Death decides to take his form. Joe then tells her that he will always have what she found in the cafe and thanks her for loving him so dearly. Joe and Bill then leave as Susan watches them.
In the end, Death is revealed to bring back the real Joe from the cafe, who appears in front of Susan. The two return to the party together after the meeting.
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