|Directed by:||David Fincher|
|Written by:||Eric Roth, Robin Swicord|
|Starring:||Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Julia Ormond, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Flemyng|
|Released:||December 26, 2008|
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is close to 3 hours in length but the plot is surprisingly easy to summarise. It’s the life story of a person who ages in reverse. His name is Benjamin Button and when born, he had the appearance of a tiny, wrinkly old man. The doctors didn’t give him long to live. As time passed though, Benjamin started to look better and better.
The film follows the ups and downs of his life and the people he meets along the way. We see him raised by his adopted mother after being left on her doorstep. We follow his father who tries to maintain an interest in Benjamin’s life without revealing his true identity. We watch him discover love for the first time after meeting an Englishwoman in a Russian sea port.
There’s one character however who plays a bigger part in Benjamin’s life than all the others. Her name is Daisy. They first met when Daisy was a child and their lives have continued to cross the same paths ever since. There’s an obvious connection between them but destiny keeps finding ways to keep them apart.
That’s all I’m prepared to reveal at this point. If you’re interesting in seeing the film, you can go along and watch Benjamin’s journey unfold. We’ll all have our own opinion but I admit to being disappointed. I was expecting a greater emotional impact. The way the characters spoke and interacted left me feeling “cold”. The only exception was Benjamin’s mother, Queenie (played by Taraji P. Henson). You could sense the love and concern that she had for her adopted son.
The running theme throughout the movie is one of ageing and death. Benjamin has to watch all of his friends grow older and die. The film will strike a cord with some audiences but I wasn’t particularly moved by this theme (which was reinforced again and again). The other major problem is that there’s no suspense. You always know where the story is heading and to have to wait so long for the inevitable conclusion was frustrating at times. Could certain subplots have been cut to greatly shorten the film’s length? Also, what was the point of the Hurricane Katrina stuff in the current day scenes?
Qualms aside, I do want to praise the quality of the production. The work performed by the make-up artists and visual effects teams is amazing. There are scenes where Brad Pitt looks 20 and there are scenes where he looks 80. I don’t know how they did it. The cinematography from Claudio Miranda and the music score from Alexandre Desplat (The Queen) also deserve a mention. It’s not his best film but I think it’s gutsy for director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) to tackle such challenging material.
Likely to earn a bunch of Academy Award nominations early next year, I don’t know what the general movie going public is going to make of Benjamin Button. It certainly has “star power” with the likes of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett but if they share a similar reaction to myself, they’re likely to walk out of the theatre feeling unfulfilled.