Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
On the day that Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, elderly Daisy Williams (nee Fuller) is on her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital. At her side is her adult daughter, Caroline. Daisy asks Caroline to read to her aloud the diary of Daisy's lifelong friend, Benjamin Button. Benjamin's diary recounts his entire extraordinary life, the primary unusual aspect of which was his aging backwards, being diagnosed with several aging diseases at birth and thus given little chance of survival, but who does survive and gets younger with time. Abandoned by his biological father, Thomas Button, after Benjamin's biological mother died in childbirth, Benjamin was raised by Queenie, a black woman and caregiver at a seniors home. Daisy's grandmother was a resident at that home, which is where she first met Benjamin. Although separated through the years, Daisy and Benjamin remain in contact throughout their lives, reconnecting in their forties when in age they finally match up. Some of the revelations ... Written by
Brad Pitt makes his mark as an actor here as Benjamin Button, a man with a strange disorder - physically aging backwards. Along his emotional journey of life he encounters friends, family, loved ones, adventures, and most of all, chances.
Rarely has a film keeps the realism intact while still sustaining the magic of it. Truly, David Fincher and Pitt have created a film that is leaps and bounds ahead of its time. Taking a strange and fascinating tale and making it into one of the decade's very best films is something of an accomplishment.
Pitt, here, is an actor, not just a pretty face anymore. With the state-of-the-art visual effects at his hand, he pretty much carries the whole show. It is perhaps the first time since Andy Serkis' rendition of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, that great acting has eclipsed terrific special effects. You genuinely feel and sympathize for his character, rooting for him all the way. Pitt owns the film, in short. He and David Fincher make a great team, and they look unstoppable to create more terrific films.
For the supporting cast, Cate Blanchett plays the love interest of Daisy to great effect. Her tale with Benjamin's make them somewhat star-crossed lovers. I won't go that far into detail but you'll see much later into the film. Taraji P. Henson also shines as Benjamin's surrogate mother, who gives her son the support he needs. Not to mention Tilda Swinton as an early love interest.
The screenplay by Eric Roth is excellent. Told from Benjamin's point of view with some highlights by Daisy, there are no clichéd dialogs to be heard, and the script is filled with equal moments of joy, ecstasy, sorrow, and understanding. Some dialog here is timeless and quotable, such as the film's tag-line; "We are defined by opportunities, even by the ones we miss." When you age backwards, you get more chances rather than missing it. I love that and wish for it, but sadly that is what movies are made for. And if that is what you've been thinking after or during your viewing of this film, then this film has succeeded.
David Fincher is a tour-de-force of film-making. Straying away from gritty violent thrillers such as "Zodiac", the unmatched "Fight Club", and "Se7en", he takes a bizarre love story, the most expensive budget he's faced, and crafts a film with such substance and flair that he adds quality to the film. There are moments in the film which make it obvious Fincher is calling the shots. The paced is slow, but this allows us to absorb and be infatuated with the characters. There is not one dull moment in the film. It is constantly gripping and re-watchable.
Technically speaking, the cinematography and lighting is absolutely perfect; gorgeous to the eyes and senses, and while giving the right tone and feel to the film shows us director Fincher's trademark. Accompanying this is the beautiful and heart-wrenching score by Alexandre Desplat, which is absolutely flawless. The special effects are unique and well-made, and you'll find yourself confused to whether certain scenes were made with special effects or not. If you want to see actors when they were young this is the best rendition of effects possible, and I hope the future movies use more of this amazing technology to make their stars more bankable. The special effects deserve their Oscar for it is the best I've seen in any movie in 2008.
In short, it is a beautiful, tragic, and terrific movie. It is certainly timeless and will stand the test of time, and hopefully, age well like fine wine (no pun intended). This absolute gem deserves the nominations it gets, too bad it was released the same year as Slumdog Millionaire.
Overall rating: 9/10
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