Released on Christmas and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button details the life of a man who is fated to age backwards, and tells the unfortunate hardships he suffers from such an outlandish constitution.
Although it is a shame to disappoint F. Scott Fitzgerald fans, the story has absolutely nothing in relation to his short story of the same name. The only tie between the two is Benjamin’s physical condition, but even this has been reformed by the film’s screenwriter Eric Roth.
Where Fitzgerald places the mind of the character of similar condition to the body at birth, Roth sets Benjamin’s mind to his chronological age perhaps to make the character greatly more relatable to the audience. It sets a very stirring reversal when examining the physical failings of Benjamin throughout the film and, more importantly, colors his interactions in life.
Much as Roth’s other work Forrest Gump, Benjamin’s life is defined by his physical handicap, and every character in the film is a flawlessly written human. However, the characters in Benjamin Button have far more depth than those in Forrest Gump due to the greater capability to intelligently converse with the protagonist, Benjamin.
Of course, the mothers in these films still have nuggets of wisdom given in a slight vernacular phrase, in this case the famous “life is like a box of chocolates” shifts to “you never know what’s coming for you.”
These little expressions just seem to be a case of a caring mother advising her misfortuned son to keep in mind the importance of faith. What is markedly missing in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the humorous social critique that was so prevalent in Forrest Gump.
Where Forrest was active in crucial events between the 1950s and the 1970s, Benjamin keeps his head down from the history of the world – shying away from external events from 1918 to 2003.
Benjamin Button relies more on the character development and the great tragedy of the protagonist as the focus of the film.
One of the grand statistics of this film is that David Fincher (the director of Fight Club) directed it. Fincher brings his characteristic ability to shape the movie into quite the awe-inspiring cinematic accomplishment.
Much as it is in Fight Club, the cinematography is frankly very stunning. Finding the best camera shots to impose the reality of this fantasy, Fincher presents the twentieth century as a world of oil-lamp shadows and close, personal interactions. The settings transported the viewers’ minds to every location that Benjamin traveled.
Although the sets were somewhat closed and limited to a small selection of locales or the indistinguishable open ocean, the small world of the movie put a rein on the audience by limiting them to the same isolated bubble that Benjamin was forced to occupy. The movie’s special effects subtly enhanced these simple characteristics that made the film so astounding.
If it was rationally possible for a person to age backwards, the film certainly presents it in an acceptable manner. Brad Pitt’s ability to overcome the acting handicap of taking on an older appearance while having to act in a younger mindset is quite an accomplishment.
The cast of the movie deserves nothing but praise. Even the smallest parts were brought out in a very realistic manner. The depth and flaws and hardships add that third dimension that is necessary in a dramatic tragedy. The sense of loss is so drastically felt when the audience is able to so closely relate to the subject.
To summarize my windy elaboration of the veneration this movie deserves, the key word would be subtlety.
Although Benjamin is faced with unparalleled trials that no person has ever experienced (and likely never will), his tragedy of growing younger is never assaulted upon the audience and instead merely hangs as an ever-present eventuality much as our own deaths. This allows the viewer to experience Benjamin’s present life with him.
Even though the movie is quite slow in its plot progression, I would definitely say that Benjamin Button’s tale is worth the two and a half hours of sitting in a movie theater.