Monday, December 29, 2008

Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Director: David Fincher
Writers (WGA): Eric Roth (screenplay)
Release Date: 25 December 2008 (USA)

Brad Pitt - Benjamin Button
Cate Blanchett - Daisy
Julia Ormond - Caroline

Every year or two there seems to be a big-hyped movie that most people will praise for the large scope, great acting, and wonderdul plot and screen play, but is inevitably not quite worth the praise and accolades it receives. Such is the case with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Directed by David Fincher (Zodiac; Fight Club, Se7en) and starring Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, Cate Blanchett as Daisy, and Julia Ormond as Caroline.

This is a film that wants to be bigger than the script calls for, and thus it fails to deliver on the promise of an epic. Loosely adapted from the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film presents us with a the time-honored question of 'does age really matter'?

Ultimately I didn't really care. It was actually creepy to watch some of the 'touching' moments taking place between an old man and a young girl, or the sexual tension had between one man on his way backwards and a woman on her way towards menopause.

Was the acting up to par? Sure, and Pitt and Blanchett probably deserve any awards they will win. For me, there was just a major disconnect between what I was being shown and what I know to be true. This is a fantasy situation in a real world, but the rest of the real world did not interact with the fantasy part like they should. This aspect reminds me greatly of the reasons I was not able to enjoy a film from last year, Lars and the Real Girl (2007), in which a troubled young man introduces his mannequin girlfriend to the town, only to find everyone completely accepting and accomodating.

Benjamin Button needed to lose 40+ minutes of fluff. At almost 3 hours the script simply didn't call for enough to happen. With that said, this movie could have made an excellnt 4 hour epic, had more exploration been spent on what this curious Benjamin Button encountered on a daily level, apart from his early years.

It also needed to either find some much better comic relief (a series of lightning strikes to an individual seemed to be the only real light-heartedness) or it needed to become much more serious, and in so doing explore the darker side of what it would mean for a human to experience life in reverse, the terrible consequences it would involve, and not try to tie up all the loose ends so neat and nice.

I appreciate the film as an attempt to be big, but I don't think the script was strong enough to support such ambitions. It will win awards, I have no doubt about that, but I will never see this movie again, and I, like Roger Ebert has said, venture to say that many others will not seek it out again. View it if you must, but try to catch the matinee.


EDIT: Hmm.. I forgot a key point before I posted. The story is told to us through the use of a horrendous method, one that was so much of a distraction to me that it became laughable, if it wasn't for the fact that I wanted to scream. Imagine the movie Titanic and the way it started and ended, and now take a similar approach to this film. The old, dying woman imparting knowledge on to a younger family member, except for one important item - the woman can barely speak! Ok. I'll stop there.


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