The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
  • Time: 166 min
  • Genre: Drama | Fantasy | Romance
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton

Storyline:

As she lay dying in a hospital bed on the eve of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, an elderly woman asks her daughter Caroline to read from a diary left to her by a man named Benjamin. Born on the same day World War I ended, Benjamin Button’s mother died giving birth to him. As a newborn, he was old and wrinkled and his horrified father Thomas Button leaves him on the doorstep of an old folk’s home. Benjamin fits in well for, despite his young age, he looked as old as most of the residents. Benjamin soon realizes that he is growing younger, not older however. Early on, he meets the love of his life, Daisy, a beautiful red-haired, green-eyed child who grows into a beautiful woman while Benjamin grows into a handsome young man. Their lives take many different turns and making a life together is long in coming. It also is of limited duration given their ultimately different fates.

2 reviews

  • This film grabbed me from the very first frame. The film length (almost three hours) is not a factor as the events that unfold go by rather quickly. “The curious case Of Benjamin Button” is a pure case of excellence by a great case, great story about turning back the clock. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett have amazing chemistry together, and the reversal of how we expect to live our lives is both beautiful and horrific. Also, the cinematography, sound design and score are phenomenal. In my opinion, the movie ‘feels’ like “Forrest Gump” in many ways. Overall, this is a beautifully written, acted and directed American Masterpiece! David Fincher is a great director, as we already knew from “Seven”. If you miss it, you will deny yourself something very special. A must see!

  • There are many reasons to look forward to seeing The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

    First, it is nominated for a whopping thirteen Academy Awards including Best Picture. Secondly, it has a unique storyline and a marketable lead actor: Brad Pitt’s Benjamin is born old and dies young. Thirdly, it is directed by David Fincher, the visual stylist who brought us acclaimed thrillers like Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), and Zodiac (2007). Many would have seen it because of the first two reasons; I chose to watch it because of the third.

    Fincher is a talented and respected director whose stylish films often stand out from the crowd. Apart from being crowd pleasers, most of his films are also quite highly-rated by critics. While Zodiac marked a career high for Fincher and is, in my opinion, his best and most mature film thus far, Benjamin Button unfortunately brings him back to square one.

    Fincher shows that he is capable of the mundane as well; Benjamin Button is languidly-paced and is a drag to sit through. Worse, it runs slightly less than three hours, which means patience can be tested to its limits here.

    On a positive note, Benjamin Button features incredible visual effects especially in the first third of the film when Brad Pitt’s character ages backwards. Employing the concept of the ‘blue screen’ technology, the filmmakers actually used Pitt’s face on an aged body of a much shorter man (who wears a blue mask in this case) to realistically show that Benjamin is born old, wrinkly, and small.

    Special makeup is also used to enhance the features of Benjamin. However, what is even more impressive is the painstaking editing that went into ensuring that Benjamin’s head and body movements correlate fluidly with each other despite them being filmed in the same location with two different actors.

    In addition, Benjamin Button is gorgeously photographed, which is not a surprise as Fincher films have always been aesthetically pleasing. Sadly, this is eventually marred by a surprisingly poor screenplay by Eric Roth, the Oscar-winning writer of Forrest Gump (1994).

    The film begins in the most tepid way imaginable: An old dying woman lying on the hospital bed with a life-changing secret to reveal. She gives her daughter a precious diary (which contains Benjamin’s life story) to read aloud to her before she dies. The next two-and-a-half hours become a lackluster account of a person’s life through the decades which echoes similarities with Forrest Gump. Roth, what an absolutely brilliant way to earn yourself another Oscar nomination!

    The narrative is too straightforward and there is no vibrancy or thrust that goes into the storytelling. Occasionally, it gets mildly interesting but only for fleeting moments. Despite the lengthy runtime, the characters are not well-developed enough, especially the supporting ones by Tilda Swinton (Elizabeth Abbott) and Jason Flemyng (Thomas Button).

    Leading cast Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett show that they have onscreen chemistry, but their acting is way too low-key and to a large extent, disappointing. Fincher’s The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button must be commended for its technical achievements and its fabulous production design. But it could also be the film that lands Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire the most coveted prize on Oscar night.

    GRADE: C+ (6.5/10 or 3 stars)
    More reviews: eternality@sfs.org.sg

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