Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

There are certain films that seem to be made for the sole purpose of being Oscar fodder. Few movies typify this idea more than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. David Fincher completely lept out of his element of directing thrillers and psychological movies like Seven and Fight Club, to helm the touching life story of a man with a most curious disease.

Brad Pitt stars as the titular character, a man who mysteriously ages backwards. He was born as a crippled old man, and died an infant. This bizarre story is an adaptation of the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At first I wondered how they could turn a 20 page story into a nearly 3 hour movie, but after seeing it, I wonder how he was able to fit this story in so few pages.

Honestly, the movie is nearly a carbon copy of Forest Gump, with of course the very obvious twist. But it follows Benjamin as he experiences the world for the first time, experiencing everything in the reverse order that you would expect. The parallels between this and Forest Gump are unmistakable. Growing up in a boarding house, spending your whole life coming back to your one true love (Daisy, in this case played by Cate Blanchett), war, boating, and of course overcoming a rather severe handicap. I have not read the story, but I wonder how much of the movie was padded by material inspired from Forest Gump.

The story is revealed to us through Benjamin's journal as Daisy lies on her deathbed. They set this during Hurricane Katrina. I didn't care for this, because it didn't play a real role in the story (the novella took place in Philadelphia), and it seems to unnecessarily date a timeless story.

On a whole, the movie was fantastic. It was a joy seeing the world through Benjamin's inquisitive and eager eyes. But when your love is aging opposite you, it's heartbreakingly clear that aside for a short while, things just will not work out. These were issues Daisy and Benjamin had to face as their paths crossed and recrossed throughout their lives.

The cast of characters he meets along the way is what really brings sparkle to this movie.
The folks at the retirement home he grew up in each had their own unique and fascinating stories. And it only got more wonderous on his travels. Many things can be taken away from this movie. The idea of one true love. and overcoming trials to find this person, for however brief a time, are entirely valid interpretations. But I think the movie was actually saying that every single person is fascinating, and every single person has a story to tell.

4.5/5

1 comment:

Ben said...

This was no 4.5. The acting was subpar. The plot was in some ways a rehash of Gump. To top it off, the whole deal was a bit boring.