One of the most charming movies of 2008, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, adapted from the 1920’s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, serves up a bazaar yet richly, heartfelt tale of a man born well into his 80’s and ages backwards, while naturally everyone else ages forward. Not having read the book myself but knowing a little about it, I found the movie derailed quite a bit for the original story, and I’m OK with that. This film was so brilliant to me I can’t imagine it done any other way.
It reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump with its history-spanning structure. It makes sense given that Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth wrote both screenplays. Directed by David Fincher, whose credits include Se7en, Fight Club and The Game, did an astounding job with this film. Clearly he has a habit of casting Brad Pitt in his films… and why not? Pitt is a great actor who, in the past, has played some remarkable roles. And I’m comfortable saying that this is one of my favorite Brad Pitt movies to date. He played the passive, observing, kind, lovable Benjamin Button perfectly and with ease. It is extremely easy to fall in love with the actor all over again. It’s no wonder he’s up for a Golden Globe. Cate Blanchett, one of my favorite actresses, delivered yet another great, soulful performance, embodying style, grace and elegance throughout the entire film. Queenie, (Taraji P. Henson), also did a remarkable job portraying Benjamin’s adoptive mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her character was warm and loving yet strict and firm. There were some really special moments between mother and son that were truly touching, causing me to choke up at times.
The direction of this film felt timeless and dream-like in way. The use of colors in this film was amazing – dark, rich and alluring. The makeup artists should seriously get an award. MY GOODNESS! The makeup was masterful. It’s pretty easy to make a young person look old, but to make someone look 20 years younger puts you in a whole new playing field. Blanchett was able to portray a convincing 23 year old, while the most incredible image was Pitt looking the way he did in Thelma & Louise, which was almost 20 years ago. Boy did he look good! I credit Fincher and his vast team of collaborators for their fantastic visionary storytelling, editing and cinematography. Last but not least, the films score was riveting. This music is simply beautiful and touching – exactly what this movie deserved. It just makes you feel good.
This story begins in a hospital room where a very old, dying Blanchet lays in her bed while her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) reads to her from the journal of dear friend Benjamin Button. On the account of his journal entries, we are then taken back in time to New Orleans at the end of World War 1 where Benjamin is born. The story then progresses from there and spans to present day. The audience is thrown into this wonderful, captivating adventure where Benjamin’s experiences take us to distant corners of the earth and all the eccentric people we meet along the way. Benjamin’s tale is filled with hard yet exciting trials, of happiness and sadness and above all, the timeless, lasting love he finds along the way.
I did find the movie to be a tad bit long. I feel they could have shorted the film by 30 minutes and been just fine. Alas, even with the 2 hours and 47 minutes, it still managed to captivate me. I really love it when movies make you feel like you were apart of the characters life. When, by the end of the movie, you feel you truly experienced what the characters experienced, felt how they felt. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button delivered exactly that. This remarkable piece of cinema was emotional and moving and I found myself tearing up quite a bit.
Benjamin Button was not an extraordinary man, and by no means did he change the world. He was simply a man born under unusual circumstances. I fell completely in love with this breathtaking story and hope you do as well.
“You never know what’s coming for you.”RATING: A