Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Eric Roth
USA release: 25 December 2008
Msia release: 12 February 2009
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Runtime: 166 mins
Rated in USA: PG-13 for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking
Rated in Msia: N/A

Loosely based (and I mean very loosely) on a 1921 short-story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button follows the life of a man who is born old, grows younger through life and finally dies as an infant. Being a movie that is about the entire life of one man, we don't learn much about Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). Although the film runs for 2 hours and 46 minutes long, its definitely not enough time to tell the tale of a man's life and have a great deal focus on the character I wish it did.

Benjamin Button
is born in New Orleans, Louisiana right after World War I and his mother dies childbirth. Disgusted and upset, Thomas Button ditches his newborn son on the step of an old folks’ home. Benjamin is discovered by a caretaker at the nursing home, Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) and she takes him in and raises him as her own. Not long after, we see Daisy (Cate Blanchett), who is the granddaughter of a resident at the home and is the love of Benjamin's life. Following Benjamin's life story as he grows younger in appearance, he goes off the sea to work on a tugboat and is thrown into World War II when his boat battles and sinks a German U-Boat. Returning home after the war, Banjamin learns that Daisy has moved to New York and become a successful dancer. When Benjamin visits Daisy in a hospital in Paris after she was hit by a taxi, he's turned away by Daisy, telling him to get out of her life. Later when Daisy returns to New Orleans, Benjamin and her share a period of romance where they have a baby girl. Realizing he cannot be a proper father and husband, he leaves Daisy and his daughter behind. With only the clothes on his back, Benjamin travels the world. Later in his life he returns to visit Daisy one last time before growing into a teenager and suffering from dementia. As Benjamin loses all memory of his life, Daisy takes care of him. Finally Benjamin dies as an infant in Daisy's Arms.

With all the hype surrounding this movie, I went into watching it with high hopes and I really thought I was going to love it. At the end of the movie, I wanted to love it but I just didn't. The few problems I had with it were that it was a bit too long, too much time was devoted to some parts of Benjamin's life and that the focus of the of the character was just not sufficient. The acting was very good from Pitt, Blanchett and especially from Taraji P. Henson. I thought Pitt did the southern accent very well. He made it sound very laid back , lazy and original. I didn't quite feel the chemistry between him and Cate Blanchett. It was definitely no where as close to their performance in Babel a few years back.

There were a few unnecessary scenes and sequences that added nothing much to the movie. Like the opening sequence to the movie about the man who made the clock that goes backwards. And the affair with Elizabeth Abbott in Russia. Too much time was spent on Benjamin's childhood and too little on the illustration of the romance between him and Daisy when they're life's paths crossed. I didn't really like the whole idea of the story being constant flashbacks. When I was really getting into the story and the character, we get pulled out into the hospital room where Daisy's daughter is reading Benjamin's diary. The one sequence I did like though, was when Daisy was hit by the taxi. That was the most interesting the movie got for me.

I must say though that the movie was shot beautifully. I really dug the whole old, musky, yellowish aura the movie had. I especially loved the old nursing home. And who's going to deny that the makeup deserves an Oscar. The makeup and visual effects that went into making Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett look old was simply amazing.

My final verdict is that 'Ben Button' was without a doubt an amazingly well done movie. From the cinematography to the set up to the acting to the makeup and visual effects. But for me, it was just not to my liking. Not my cup of tea if you would. So in my eyes, the tale of Benjamin Button is a curious one indeed.

Doctor's diagnosis: 7 out of 10 Popcorns

2 comment/s:

Anonymous said...

Dude, i'm not too much of a movie analyst, but i think the backwards clock has a relation to benjamin's life. I mean, the clock works backwards and so does his body.

Michael J. Campton said...

Yeah I got that. But I didn't get what it added to the story.

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