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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film unlike any I've ever seen
and probably ever will. A true epic that left me utterly speechless. It
accomplished so much through such simplicity. Everything was top notch
from the elegant directing to the subtly wonderful performances down to
the magical score. The film demands you to feel not only for the death
we witness, but for the incredible life we discover. It prays on the
obvious morality issues we all deal with but also dangles the idea in
front of us that everyone goes through the same joys and grievances,
just not in the same way. This is a momentous tale that deserves
nothing less than the title of brilliance.
This visually and emotionally rich movie recalls the life of a very peculiar man born in the early 20th century who ages backwards. His tale unfolds through a diary read by the daughter of his love, Daisy. Throughout life he goes through the same things we do, growing up and eventually growing old. He's a thoughtful observer, discovering life from all different angles. But it is not his life that makes him unique. His love is what makes him special. He spends a lifetime trying to understand how his love for Daisy works and still only gets a few incredible years really loving her. As their lives tell us, the years of frustration and hardship are all worth it if only for a few moments of happiness.
The direction in the film is almost flawless. Hopefully, Benjamin Button will garner David Fincher the recognition he deserves. He winds this clock so well and with such grace that the movie has this undeniable flow that is enjoyable from start to finish. At nearly 3 hours, there is not a minute wasted. Every shot is jaw dropping and while some will find issue with the time, it is used wisely.
The acting is also a thing of wonder. This is by far Brad Pitt's best performance. He is so believable and realistic throughout. His nuances are spot on and despite the heavy use of make-up and CGI used to portray his character, it is Pitt who makes Benjamin that much more curious.
I left the theater astonished that some one could review this movie badly. It is an extremely graceful depiction of life, love, and the things we lose. After so much anticipation I was certainly not disappointed. This movie is probably not for everyone though. It's not your average drama that spoon feeds it's audience their emotions. It is something of awe and astonishment, an absolute gem. What makes our lives memorable are the moments we never seem to grasp long enough before letting go. Life in itself is indeed very, very curious and Benjamin Button is no less of a wonder.
Possibly the most anticipated winter film of 2008, The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button is a curious film indeed. It's got an intriguing and
completely absorbing story, as well as my favorite director, David
Fincher, on the top of his game. With "Button", Fincher cements his
place as one of the best directors alive, as his film is nothing short
of magical, mesmerizing, riveting, ground breaking, and ultimately,
When I first heard about this movie, I had to wonder...how was Fincher, the guy responsible for realistic, gripping, crime thrillers like Seven and Zodiac going to pull off the fantasy film of a lifetime? Armed with a massive budget, Fincher uses everything a director can use to craft the most charming and technically brilliant film of the year. It's a film to be cherished for ages.
"Button" has struck me like this because a recurring theme in the film is that age is only a number, and that we as people can choose what we do with our lives, no matter what our age is. What better way to tell this message than through a story where the titular character ages backwards, and must experience life in such a way? How does one fall in love when he could one day appear young enough to be his spouse's child? How does a 5 year old play with the neighborhood children when he's confined to a wheelchair stricken with old age? Fincher's epic explores our choices, lives, and the timelessness of life itself.
Brad Pitt plays the title role of Benjamin Button with a certain air of likability like he always does. While I felt he did a good job with the part, he didn't have to do much...Benjamin, fittingly, is a rather quiet character (I'd be willing to bet he narrates more than he actually talks in the film). In terms of acting, the film belongs to the ladies, Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson in particular. Though Blanchett may seem overrated to some, there's no denying her unrivaled talent at playing a character as complex and deep as Daisy, and she pulls it off with ease and charisma. Taraji P. Henson will warm your heart as Benjamin's mother, as she's humorous, warm, and loving, so loving that I felt as if she was my mother.
The main complexity behind the film, especially with a director like David Fincher, is keeping the film grounded in reality, while maintaining the undeniable magic within. As a director, you don't want to lose too much of either quality, instead keeping a healthy balance of the two. I feel that Fincher accomplished this perfectly. He is mainly helped out by a magical score, and absolutely stunning cinematography (which immediately identified it as a Fincher film, because of the darkness and lighting of it).
Despite the wonder and awe of the film, mixed with the realism that Fincher always brings, the true allure of the film is not just Benjamin's aging problem, but the romance between Benjamin and Daisy, which is beautiful. Two people in love, regardless of age, time, or place. It's one of the most compelling romances of the year.
"Button" is also the most technically well made movie of 2008, as the true standouts are the Visual Effects and the Makeup, both of which are Oscar worthy. Pitt plays the character at almost every age, but it's almost impossible to tell when the CGI is being used on him. You know it's there, obviously, but you can't tell it's being used. When the transition is just smooth enough for the Visual Effects to be retired, but just rough enough to use makeup, it's absolutely perfect. If you've ever wanted to see Brad Pitt look 20 again, look no further, as the effects that make our actors young again (the same goes for Blanchett) are just as stunning as those that make them older.
Despite a long runtime, the film never drags. If I had to point out one thing I would've liked to have seen a little more of, it would've been more of Benjamin as a little kid, as I felt that was rushed (for those who don't know what I mean, I mean the last parts of the film when he's old, but his body is young). This doesn't hurt the film in any way, as it's just my wishful thinking.
I know I've used the word 'magical' a lot in this review, and don't think it's on accident. If I could pick one word to describe David Fincher's masterpiece, that would be it: magical. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a captivating piece of art that shouldn't be missed by anyone.
Before seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button I wondered how I
would react to the story of a man who is born old and gets younger as
he grows up. Of all of the stories I have come across, this is by far
the most bizarre and intriguing. If i had to pick someone to bring this
story to the screen I do no think David Fincher would have been my
How wrong I would have been. This film is by far one of the best if not the best of 2008. Fincher's direction is flawless! The film from start to finish does not let up. There are moments of joy and ecstasy followed by sorrow and understanding. Brad Pitt stars as Benjamin, a boy born an old man who must live his life in reverse. His friend from childhood, Daisy, is played by Cate Blanchett. The story is narrated from Benjamin's point of view with some particular highlights from Daisy.
The cast does nothing wrong. Pitt leads with Blanchett and a strong performance from Taraji P. Henson as Benjamin's surrogate mother Queenie, the only person in the world who seems to understand and truly love him from the start. Other cameos along the way bring a large array of characters, including Tilda Swinton, one of Benjamin's early love interests.
The film spans from the end of World War I to the the arrival of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The transitions from life stage to life stage and decade to decade are seamless. Fincher does a tremendous job at maintaining a steady flow of action and dialogue. There is not a dull moment in the film. The cinematography is superb and couples nicely with Fincher's style of accentuating certain colors to enhance a mood or moment.
There really is nothing wrong with this film. Even with a runtime of about 160 minutes, time just flies by, much like it does for Benjamin, only we are going forward. This is a tender and meaningful film you do not want to wish.
I had been awaiting to see this movie for some time. Alas, it was Christmas Day and you bet I was there to see the movie on opening day. I set my expectations really high on this film. I expected nothing short of brilliance with a film coming from director David Fincher, director of the masterful "Zodiac" and screenwriter Eric Roth, writer of the classic "Forrest Gump". The acting is brilliant in the movie. Brad Pitt and the marvelous Cate Blanchett share a fire that resonates so effortlessly out to the audience. Other performances are notable as well, such as Taraji P. Henson's as Benjamin's mother, and Tilda Swinton's as Benjamin's first lover. Another notable achievement in the film is the visual effects; none of it is overdone and it is quite convincing. The music in the film is great as well. The haunting and mythical music is composed by Alexandre Desplat. One thing that did surprise me in the film was the amount of comedy present, but I guess comedy's needed for a tale with such sorrow. I really do think that this film is a classic. And I would go and see it again. When I was walking out of the theater, some people complained that the movie was very good, but that it was too long. I disagree; I actually didn't want it to end. It's the perfect film to watch all snuggled up in a blanket during the dead of winter. All things aside, this movie is about the short time we're given with life and how we are to make the most of it. Even with a story as fictional as Benjamin Button's, the message rings true.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" would seem to have everything
going for it - major stars, an enormous budget, and a conceit that
can't be beat. However, in the end it's that very conceit that
hamstrings an otherwise wondrous piece of movie-making.
Fincher's characters tend to be psychos, paranoiacs, obsessives, some of whom struggle vainly against the darkness in their own souls, but many others who have embraced it. Benjamin Button is none of the above, and that's perhaps his problem. Button, born "under unusual circumstances" in 1918 New Orleans, spends his early life literally surrounded by death, raised, as he is, by an orderly in a home for the elderly. As a prematurely old man himself (an effect achieved by fantastic MOCAP work from Pitt), perhaps it's not surprising that as he grows into a body with which he may truly engage the world, he is more content to observe appreciably.
Now, this may be true to the spirit of the character, but unfortunately for Fincher and his screenwriter, Eric Roth, it doesn't make for very interesting cinema. At a recent screening, Roth referred to Button's character as the "anti-Gump", a classification that seemed both apt and problematic. This film will certainly earn comparisons to Robert Zemeckis' modern classic(also written by Roth), but where that film had a truly fascinating central character, who experienced as many mistakes and tragedies as victories and happiness, Fincher and Roth's protagonist is a cipher. There's a telling sequence around the middle of the film, where Button, by now a merchant seaman holed up in a dingy hotel in Murmansk, strikes up a relationship with a bored wife of a minor British official (Tilda Swinton). Unable to sleep, they meet each night for tea and good conversation (and later, sex). But instead of letting us hear what those conversations are about, he simply creates a montage, set to music, of various meetings fading into one another. By the time Swinton's character departs the film, we know next to nothing new about Benjamin other than that he has trouble sleeping and likes hot tea. The fact is that even Swinton's character, on screen for perhaps fifteen minutes, is more engaging. It's a frustrating glimpse of what might have been, had the filmmakers chosen to put the character before the gimmick, instead of the other way around.
Which brings us to Cate Blanchett. As Daisy, whom Benjamin meets as a young girl and who grows into a luminously beautiful and troubled ballet dancer, Blanchett shines as brightly as she ever has on screen. Unlike Benjamin, Daisy is not content to simply accept whatever life throws her way - she has dreams and attempts to act on them, and does her best to lead a normal, interesting life. Benjamin, passive as always, must quietly observe as she grows out of the playmate of his "youth" and into a somewhat headstrong woman who nonetheless possessed of enormous potential. His loyalty pays off, though, when circumstances bring them together again at a time when they both happen to be the same age - a fleeting moment, and one they will cherish. But again, the relationship between couple and audience is one-sided, because while we can see why Daisy would wish to return to the rock-steady loyalty of Benjamin, it's unclear what he feels about her other than a regard (she's certainly lovely enough). We are told in rather soggy voice-over narration (spread throughout the film) that Daisy is "the most beautiful person I'd ever seen", but that's all we'll get.
And so it goes, for nearly three hours. We cut frequently, and irritatingly, back to a modern-day hospital in New Orleans, where a dying Daisy asks her daughter (Julia Ormond) to read to her from Benjamin's diary as Hurricane Katrina pounds on the windows. There's something being said in these scenes about regret and the passage of time, but the appealing Ormond's character is one-note, and Blanchett seems nearly suffocated under pounds of old age makeup. It's from this diary whence springs Benjamin's narration, but, as Mr. Roth pointed out, Gump this ain't. Suffice it to say that the budget is up there on screen as we go on this strange trip through the twentieth century with Brad Pitt as our guide. A possibly unintentional (I doubt it) laugh arises mid-film when Benjamin finally reaches something around Pitt's own age. He strides into a garage in the mid-50's, decked out in leather jacket and shades, and whips a tarp off a motorcycle, on which he speeds out to the harbor to do some bare-chested sailing on a boat he builds himself (the shades remain on his head). It's a knowing wink to the wish-fulfillment of the casting - who wouldn't want their old crotchety husband to get younger and younger until they looked like Brad Pitt? - and a clever way to underscore the underlying tragedy of the situation. Sure, he looks like Brad Pitt in "Fight Club", "Se7en", "Thelma & Louise", but eventually he's going to look like Brad Pitt in "Cutting Class", and then Brad Pitt in seventh grade, and finally Brad Pitt as a toddler, and that's not so sexy.
Pitt does a fine job. It's a pity that Fincher, who has used him to such great effect twice before, didn't let him cut loose. Instead this is his most low-key performance since Meet Joe Black, in which he played Death, who was really just a nice young man curious about the world. Come to think of it, that's pretty much all that Benjamin Button is, and, if nothing else, he knows more about death than just about anybody around. Too bad that a film that means to affirm life turns out to be rather lifeless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first heard that Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's new film The
Curious Case of Benjamin Button was destined to join the "sweepers" at
the 2009 Oscars I knew that I had to check the film out to see if the
rumors were true. Go back in time a little to when the film was first
announced. David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) was set to direct with a
script from Eric Roth (Munich, The Insider) based off of an F. Scott
Fitzgerald short story of the same title. The aspects of the crew were
locked and had me somewhat interested. Then the cast list was announced
with Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert
Ford, Twelve Monkeys) and Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There., Coffee and
Cigarettes) headlining the list, to say the least, it had my attention.
I rarely get hyped up for super-mainstream films anymore with all of
the disappointments that have occurred in the past. Luckily enough I
was given the chance to attend a press screening on December 4th for
this film and left well, satisfied. Given the fact that I was
underwhelmed by the trailers, being satisfied is certainly saying
Benjamin Button centers on the life of well, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). As he states throughout the film, he was born under unusual circumstances. Unusual does not seem fit to describe it. Absurd would be a more suiting for the strange predicament Button found himself in. Born at the same age of everyone else when they enter the world, he had one different trait that stood out like a great white shark in a fish bowl, he had the frail wrinkled skin of an old man. Not only that, all of his features were those of a ninety-year old man. How this happened, the film does not explain in scientific terms but rather labels it as a "miracle" which in retrospect, it certainly is. With the outside of an old man, but the mind of a new born, Button had quite the handicap to overcome as a child. He is raised by the loving Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) who runs a nursing home establishment. There he meets an assortment of characters that all effect his life in different way although one person seems to have more of an effect than the rest. A young girl named Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is the grand daughter of one of the elders residing in the home. There she befriends Benjamin and their epic tale of love begins.
Go into this film with an open minded because you are going to leave with an over flooded one as it is. The story carries so many twists and heart wrenching scenes that the viewer cannot help but become completely engrossed in the film. The main theme in the film is not death, forgiveness or love, but rather life. Life as whole. Every little detail, every experience we have is our life. What we witness is an almost complete documentation of Benjamin's life. One thing that the film did quite splendidly was when Benjamin stated in his narration that a certain person affected his life quite greatly. When the scenes with that person would initiate, the film's pacing would slow down and pay closer attention to his relationship with the person and the changes they caused in his life. A beautiful portrayal of the finer moments in life.
Even if you leave the film bitter there is one thing you cannot deny your love for. The technical aspects of the film. The make-up is the best I have ever seen in a film. The age progression of the actors is done incredibly well. Even the actors handled the age changing roles quite well. The costume design is also fantastic and will most likely take home the Oscar gold along with the make-up. Another notable technical aspect is Fincher's direction. He has never been nominated for the "coveted" Best Director before but he has a strong chance with this film. One of the film's sequences stands out above the rest as one of the greatest Fincher has ever directed. While I will not go into great detail about it, I will say that it involves a tug boat fending off a submarine and it is incredible. Alexandre Desplat who was the composer for the film creates a score that may not be one of the most memorable, certainly helps in creating the film's atmosphere, which is a poetic one. To fully describe the spell that the technical aspects cast over the film would be nothing short of mesmerizing.
While this may not be the best film of the year, it certainly is a film that will be remembered for quite some time. It's not "flawless" or a "masterpiece" but it is something grand, something magical. A film that can be experienced over and over again. One that does not undermine the intelligence of the viewer by repeating sloppy dramatic sequences that will only end up to the understandable conclusion of happiness. No, Benjamin Button is a film that understands the human mind and revels in it. Producing every bit of love, happiness, depression, confusion, hate, companionship that life provides us with this film is a tour-DE-force on most levels. Come Oscar time, this is the mainstream "masterpiece" of the year that is to be reckoned with. I can easily see it picking up nominations in most categories and winning them as well. Like I stated before, it is not the best film of the year, but is one that you should see to experience the wondrous life of Benjamin Button.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The disappointment I feel is perhaps more for David Fincher's career
than this film. Everything on the surface of 'The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button' appears beautiful - the cinematography, the special
effects, the make-up, the cast... everything is about eye candy. It is
sweet but like sweets containing high glucose corn syrup, it leaves one
irritable and certainly dissatisfied.
I find with most critiques of mainstream, big budget films those who fall into two camps - those taken in by the hype, by the surface of the film and those who feel and understand the film, aware of its flaws. It is the same with bestseller novels.
First of all, the concept of this film was unique. Let us at least take notice of F.Scott Fitzgerald who may or may not have stolen the idea/material from his wife Zelda (whom many scholars believe was the true genius and not her husband). Origins aside, the film has all the trimmings of previous work.
There are some people who are vehement about this being 'not Forest Gump'. I would stress the similarities between the two films and the fact Eric Roth wrote both.
Let us take note of the obvious:
Atypical hero: Forest Gump/Benjamin Button Love Interest Jenny/Daisy Mother (with similar accents) Hero's 'war involvement' Vietnam War/WWII Setting American South/American South Leitmotif Feather/Hummingbird
There are others but those are the most obvious. Let us also remind ourselves both films are narrated by the hero who both happen to have interesting and 'profound' observations about life and their lives.
But if it were simply a matter of being Forest Gump, then I would still have high praise for Benjamin Button. Not so. The majority of this film remains on the surface. Despite all the observations, despite the epic sweep of events that pass through the narrative, we as an audience are rarely allowed to go deeper. Again, the film was based on a unique idea but without the human psychology, without more background on several characters, I found it difficult to relate to any of these characters.
Benjamin Button. He is born old, he grows young. That's all we really know. He lives with old people, he learns to play the piano, he leaves home, he travels, he sees the world. Most of the narrative is about places and meeting people, rarely about being involved with others, what it means or feels like to relate to a world that sees him as old. He is an outsider. How does this feel? We don't really know as an audience. The film is entirely experiential, rarely psychological.
Daisy. We know she had a grandmother. We knows she loves to dance. But little else. What motivated her to dance, why did she love dancing? We don't know. And of course, why of all things did she not have a relationship with her daughter?
The relationship: A man returns from war. He meets a woman that used to be the girl he loved. The woman wants to seduce him. She attempts. He steps back. When this occurs in the film, we don't really understand the reasoning nor the purpose of the scene. Daisy is in town one day. Her and Benjamin go out together. Why is sex so important to Daisy? And why do we have to watch the two characters go back and forth before they land up together? When he visits her in New York, she is immature, a school girl attempting to get him jealous. Yet he is still attracted to her.
There are so many other questions I have about this film and so many things that simply do not make sense. The main one that comes to mind: if you are a dancer, someone who is professionally trained, why in any circumstances would you even think of dancing on a crowded street? The scene in which Daisy was hit by a car was for too unbelievable. She is first held up by a friend with a broken shoe lace. Daisy remains behind. In such a situation, when you have to wait for someone, the last thing you want to do is fool around after waiting. The scene felt convoluted and dumb - not tragic.
The montage in which Daisy and Benjamin find themselves together plays out like all other young lover clichés - they travel together, they make love, they buy a love, they make love in their home, they paint their home (there is a brief, albeit clichéd 'lovers painting the wall' scene ... yawn...seen it...). I didn't find this film to be magical, just a mosaic of previous formulas and scenarios. Benjamin 'youthens', he leaves her. He comes back later. Throughout the entire film, the audience really doesn't know or understand or get a sense of what it means to grow 'young' nor what kind of effect it might have on others.
I felt very tired after watching this picture. The first half was not bad. My interest was kept, I enjoyed the characters but when I started feeling lost and cheated, that I would never get any closer to the lives, feelings and deeper philosophies, and what with some of the frustrating scenes between Daisy and Benjamin, I began to grow impatient.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Groucho Marx said there's no worse thief than a bad movie. (steals your
money and your time) and that's exactly what this film is.
Do not, I repeat, do not tolerate the comparisons to Forrest Gump - a film filled with history, humor!, star-studded cast, a solid script, jam packed with history, one clever gimmick after the other and brilliant effects.
Spoiler - Benjamin Button had one effect, that was make-up: Take one of the world's most attractive men and make him look unattractive for 75% of the film, while he moans and groans about the deal he's been dealt in life. don't get me wrong, they did this well, but he's never sympathetic. Y'just don't care about him at all... to be honest, the whole film struck me as a giant, drawn-out metaphor for a midlife crisis: a man pines after a girl who's not ready for him for years and years, then when she finally takes him into her bed, they spend a glorious year between the sheets, and as soon as responsibility shows up in the form of a child, he runs away from commitment, blaming his condition. And what's the big deal with his condition??? So his body is getting younger.. not his mind. That would actually make him a great father... he'd be around for the same number of years as many fathers are for their children.. 30/40 years, and during that time he'd only have gotten stronger and younger, while his mind was still maturing. What a gift! Great, cherish it! Live it! Accept your lot in life, challenges and all, and be a remarkable human being. That's the challenge laid upon us all.
But no - Instead of facing his problem and taking on life and love and cherishing every moment, he lets down the woman he loves terribly and runs out on her, for what? to have sex with a few women? Preposterous.
And then of course, when he comes back, she forgives him for being a coward and a stinker. Well why? Why be so forgiving. What's so tough about his life, oh poor guy, he gets to get younger everyday, he gets to get stronger and better looking as he sleeps.. where was the appreciation of this miracle? Where were the papers who would have been making a big deal over him? Where was the major history that he lived through which we never saw? Where were his amazing slew of life experiences, we watched 90 years of a man's life and all he did was run and hide from who he was. Where was a p-l-o-t? - the guy had no appreciation for the people who loved him, never knew his mother was sick? Nope, just came home one day to find she'd died. Did he not stay in touch with anyone? He did have a sister. I guess she didn't want to call to let him know their mother was ill? Clearly no one cared enough about him to tell him. Classic. Well if they don't, I don't either. And why did Cate's character keep his postcards from their daughter once the journal was found? Made no sense. Cate moved into the house and lived with him for 5 years as he went through Alzheimer's as an infant - where was Julia's character during this time? Also not speaking to anyone? Was she not curious why her mother chose to spend 5 years of her life this way? Why did she never tell her about her father? Why did I watch this piece of drivel and waste my time??? Save yourself the agony.
I'm sorry F. Scott Fitzgerald. I'm sure you wrote a lovely short story. But that's all it was, a short story, and should have remained so. Before someone drags out your piece to a 3 hour sedative they ought to maybe actually write a s-t-o-r-y to justify the running time.
**Watch the trailer**. That's all you need. And really, do watch it. It's interesting, it's pretty to look at, and really that's the entire story right there, a minute-and-a-half, you can see all of the make-up and special effects, you can pretend you've seen the film, cause nothing more happens - save yourself 3 hours and go spend time with your family instead, appreciate the gift of life instead of squandering it on bad films, or watch a different movie, (ooh, Juno, that was a good flick with an actual script - about dealing with life, hardships and all without boring people to tears), or go bang your head against a wall, something remotely entertaining. Brad, Cate, Julia, you're wonderful, all of you, the whole cast, you're lovely, you got pummeled by a lousy non-script and mind-blowingly uninspired direction. I'm sorry for you all.
I found this to be an interesting film; certainly not boring as I had
heard from a few people who saw it in the theater. To me, it was simply
Yes, it's slow, especially by today's movie standards, but it's certainly a unique story and it's nicely filmed, acted and directed. Story-wise, it's one of those films I understand if people love it or hate it. I'm somewhat in the middle and leaning toward the positive.
For a movie that runs for over 2 hours and 40 minutes and is not some suspense or action film, it has to be pretty good to hold one's interest. I can only speak for myself; it held my interest for 95 percent of it.
I think the first two-thirds of the movie is the best. Brad Pitt as "Benjamin Button" is pretty fascinating, as is the story of him growing up from a wrinkled, old man-baby to a mid-40s guy. When he re-unites with childhood friend "Daisy" (Cate Blanchett) and becomes her lover, the film bogs down in a few spots but few people are going to stop watching after investing two hours. It picks up again, especially in the last minutes when "Benjamin" begins to finally become younger than an adult.
There's a sadness to this story, especially near the end but overall, even though it's central theme seems to be "death," I don't think it's a depressing film. It does remind us, in a big way, that the longer we're around, the more death of friends and loved ones we witness. That's just a sad fact of life. I hear about it all time with my father, who is 91 years old and has seen almost all of his friends die.
It's especially true in this story when Benjamin starts off and has a lot of old friends to begin with! "Benjamin" was an odd person to me; you could root for him, yet not admire him. He often treated people only to satisfy his desires and could have been so much more. Yet, being "a fly on the wall" and observing his interesting life, was memorable, making this a film worthy of the time invested to watch it.
In the end, the movie made me appreciate the friends I do have, and not to take any of them for granted as life passes us by so fast, no matter what direction we're headed!
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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