The Curious Case of Benjamin Button movie review
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button movie poster
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Movie - The Most Oscar Nominations for the year it was released. Warning - Review contains spoilers , full synopsis
Leading the Oscar contenders was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was being considered for thirteen different Academy Awards, including best picture, best actor (Brad Pitt), best director (David Fincher), best supporting actress (Taraji P. Henson), best visual effects (Eric Barba, et al.) and best original score (Alexandre Desplat) It is indeed an excellent, well made film. Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a different type of film, the likes of which we do not typically see. Based on a 1920s short story by the iconic author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, it might come as no surprise that the caliber of the film is so great.
There is currently a woman in Italy disputing the basis of the film, stating that she wrote an unpublished book in 1994 and the film seems to be based on it. Latest information attained showed that a judge will read her book and look at the film to verify similarities and differences. Nevertheless, the story line of this film is incredible.
It begins with the invention of a clock that proceeds backward instead of forward. With the unveiling of this clock, comes Benjamin's birth "under unusual circumstances." His mother dies in childbirth and his father detests the sight of Benjamin. He is shocked that Benjamin, a newborn baby, has all the features of a very elderly man. The anomaly sends Benjamin's father reeling in confusion and dismay. No one can calm him down. He grabs the baby and runs outside, tempted to throw him into the river. Only partially regaining his sense, he does another act of desperation instead. He leaves the baby on the door step of a rest home for the elderly.
Queenie, a character played by Taraji P. Henson, works at the home and discovers Benjamin on the doorstep. She exclaims, "He's a miracle, that's for certain. Just not the type one wishes to see." Taraji P. Henson, of Hustle and Flow among other works, does an excellent job in this film and is commanding of her role. Her ownership of the role, Queenie is one of the many contributions the cast makes to adding so much realism to this strange story. Taraji P. Henson's versatility in acting is to be appreciated as is her confidence. In a published February 2009 interview to Essence magazine, she stated "I'm a trained actress..Equip me with a dialect coach. Let me stay in Paris or London for a week; you'd think I was born and raised there. I can do it. I know my talent."
From the start, Queenie is nurturing of Benjamin and appeases those with questions by saying that Benjamin is her sister's son and she promised to care for him. One of the elderly women at the rest home looks at Benjamin's old faces, and says, my goodness, "he looks like my ex-husband". This is one of many funny moments in the film. Another occurs as Benjamin is 'growing up'. He is seven years old and Queenie takes him to a church revival to pray for him to be healed. Queenie is unable to have her own children and is also praying for a miracle regarding her condition. (Later on in the film, she has a biological child after all. The minister looks at Benjamin, who is still confined to a wheelchair and looks like a very old man, and he asks, "How old are you?" Benjamin says, "Seven, but I look a lot older." Everyone on screen and the whole audience in the movie theater laughs at this statement and the contradiction that is Benjamin Button.
The film, as a whole, is not a comedy however. Furthermore, although the far fetched plot about a man who is born old and ages backward might seem very much like science fiction, it is not revealed as that either. This is a poignant romantic drama that makes us think about life and death, and what we do with life while we have it despite whatever "unusual circumstances" we might have.
The screenplay for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was written by Eric Roth. Many people who have seen the film claim to find similarities to Forrest Gump (screenplay also written by Eric Roth). The similarity seems to predominantly lie in another lovable character overcoming adversity and living life to the fullest. As Benjamin Button grows up, he has many adventures including serving in war. Very notable among his experiences is falling in love. Now, to make for a convincing love story, that is appealing to the audience, the paths of Benjamin (Pitt) and his love interest, Daisy (Cate Blanchett), must cross at the most opportune time. It is not until they "meet in the middle" that their passion becomes an integral part of the story. Daisy is aging normally and Benjamin is aging backwards, so it is when they are in their mid forties that we are truly drawn in to the love story that is theirs.
Before this time, Benjamin and Daisy live separate lives and have seperate life experiences (hers as a dancer). Benjamin and Daisy's time together is limited but their love is deep, as told by an older Daisy, many years later. When the time in their forties passes, and Daisy begins to grow old while Benjamin 'grows young', it is in a word, AWKWARD. Benjamin leaves before it can get far into that stage and insists that Daisy go on to live life and find "a real husband". Nevertheless, while the romantic passion must end, Daisy always cares for Benjamin even as he grows young to the point that he know longer remembers her, or can not verbally express that he does.
The story is set in flashbacks with New Orleans, in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina playing a part. Daisy is very old and terminally ill. Her daughter played by Julia Ormond is at her bedside. The nurses are doing their rounds and informing patients and visitors about the possibility of evacuation due to the storm. Daisy and her daughter have decided to stay and wait out the storm. Daisy tells her daughter the story of Benjamin Button while she is weak, and in and out of consciousness. Daisy's daughter reads most of the story herself while he mother sleeps. She learns of the legacy that is Benjamin and her connection to him.
I rate this film 4.5/5 stars
Directed by David Fincher
Screenplay by Eric Roth
Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, and others
Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers
Running time: 166 minutes