The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2009)

Posted: March 8, 2009 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Director: David Fincher / Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Tarajo Henson

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ directed by David Fincher, takes its inspiration from one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories. Screenwriter Eric Roth takes only Fitzgerald’s central premise – a man is born old and gets younger as he advances through life – but he drops everything else, adopting a tone of sorrow and longing that’s actually much more in line with Fitzgerald’s other, better work. The story begins in 1918 and extends into present day, and, at every point, the art direction and clothing meticulously re-create the respective eras. The digital cinematography subtly evokes earlier photography.

The premise is clever. The film chronicles the life of Benjamin Button, played by Brad Pitt, whose mother dies during child birth, and whose father abandons him on the doorsteps of an old-folks home when he is born with the appearance of an elderly man. The home, run by a maid named Queenie, takes him in as a son, and people begin to see that he is in fact aging backwards, from old to young. We follow his story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918 to the 21st century. It is primarily a love story between two individuals who are aging in opposite directions.

Being an ardent David Fincher fan, I walked into the film with high expectations. But I was let down. The film is good, but not great. I must concede though, this film has its strengths. Technologically, the make-up and height adjustments made to Brad Pitt are astonishing, and the way that he looks like an old man getting younger and younger progressively is extraordinary. Additionally, the performances, including Pitt and Blanchett, but also Tilda Swinton as a spy’s wife staying in the same motel Benjamin is, were good. The love story between Daisy and Benjamin interests one at first, but later in the movie it gets plain boring.

The first half was not bad. My interest was kept, I enjoyed the characters but when I started feeling lost and cheated, that I would never get any closer to the lives, feelings and deeper philosophies, the film lost me. Somewhere during the second half you realize that the film is too long and completely lacking any meaningful plot developments.

The ‘aging in reverse’ plot is more or less abandoned halfway through. When the movie returns to it, almost as an afterthought, near the end, there are no surprising twists to enliven the movie’s deadening pace. What you expect to happen does actually happen. All in all, is a tad too long and devoid of an engaging plot. If it is uncharacteristically radiant, it is also aloof and ordinary.

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Comments
  1. pri says:

    The movie felt unreal.

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