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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

March 6, 2009

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” based on a short story by F.Scott Fitzgerald is an unconventional take on one man’s life who ages backwards. Directed by David Fincher, this film starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson narrates the life of Benjamin Button as he starts growing younger with age and the dilemma which this brings up at regular interval of Benjamin’s life.

An elderly woman, Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is on her deathbed and as her final wish, she asks her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) to read a diary for her. The diary narrates the story of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) with whom Daisy shares a special relationship. Benjamin is born on the eve of WW I’s end with severe arthritis and deformed bone structure suggesting that he’s over 80 years old. When his father abandons him, Queenie (Taraji Henson), the caretaker at a nursing home, adopts Benjamin and starts nourishing him. Against all odds, Benjamin survives and with age he starts growing healthier. One day, he meets a little girl named Daisy who comes to visit her grandmother and they share a bond. As their relationship starts to blossom, after few years Benjamin decides to move out of his home and travel to new places in a tugboat. This journey eventually leads Benjamin to meet different people and him realising the complexity of situation of growing younger with age . And it ends with some heart breaking moments….

It’s an interesting premise to start off with. Even before Benjamin’s story begins,  another story involving a blind clockmaker is  narrated which sets the tone to this concept of aging backwards. Aging backwards as an idea sounds almost perfect but it’s too scary to live that way. You just can’t do anything which people of your age do at that time. As a kid, you can’t run with others because you never know which bone might break…as a youth you can’t work the same as other 30 year old do until you catch up with others in your 50’s. Thereafter, people of your generation are just too old to share life with you, forcing you to look elsewhere. If you are looking for all these set of events and the confusion which arises from them, then Yes, Curious Case of Benjamin Button does have its share of brilliance. Writer Eric Roth and director David Fincher bring the character of Benjamin alive with some sharp writing, unfolding a myriad of memories and wisdom. The visual effects especially while depicting Benjamin Button are path breaking. Who could have imagined that you would actually see Brad Pitt playing the 80 year old Benjamin??!!! The film won three oscar awards in Visual Effects, Make Up and Art Decoration departments and each one of them have done some outstanding work in this movie.

Roger Ebert, in his review on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” said that it’s just not possible to believe! The concept maybe great, but the director cannot expect the audience to take the plot too seriously, because it’s just not possible! In a way, this movie is almost like “Forest Gump” narrated in reverse manner. Like its title, the movie drags on close to 3 long hours. While it’s impossible to chop some scenes from the movie (they fit together so well!), I wish some threads involving Benjamin at a young age (I mean when he looks 70 years old!) could have been done away with. Phew! it’s so difficult to say whether he’s old or young…I might just end up contrdicting myself!..:)

Brad Pitt plays the lead role of Benjamin Button. All I can say about his role is, he didn’t deserve an Oscar nomination for his role! His acting is hardly inspiring but does have his moments of brilliance. Cate Blanchett on the other hand, is brilliant as ever. She has got a great role in the movie which she impersonates with élan. Out of all the characters, it’s Taraji P Henson (Queenie) who’s the most remarkable. Her love and dedication towards Benjamin speaks volumes of her character. All in all a powerful performance and a well deserved Oscar nomination. The rest of the characters do perform their roles well. One of my favourite character is that of the blind clockmaker and his 2 minute speech almost made me cry!…Beautiful stuff! And another brilliant scene of the film is when Benjamin narrates Daisy’s accident. You feel like rewinding the scene over and over again to appreiciate the screenplay and editing…I wish they had done something similar with the rest of the movie as well.

The art department deserves a special mention, they recreate the environs of New Orleans in 30’s to 60’s with great amount of dexterity. Brilliant work by make up and Visual Effects…check out this link to find out how exactly they did those CGI. The adaptation by Eric Roth is good and the direction by David Fincher is great. He handles the subject with great maturity and makes sure that the presence of two big stars never overshadows the characters of the story! I have to see Fincher’s earlier movies…I think I might missed couple of gems there!..:)

At the end of the day, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a fantasy. It’s well shot and directed but loses ground with editing and length of the movie. If you can spend 2 hours and 50 minutes on a single movie, do watch it. Stories like these don’t come so often.  And Brad Pitt…I will see you in “Inglorious Bastards”. Lets see how Tarantino brings you back to normal condition!!..:P

If  you are a huge CGI fan, then this Video is Highly recommended. TED talk by Ed Ulbrich on how Benjamin Button got his face….(Thanks @udaykiran for the link)

P.S: I couldn’t help keeping the review short. The movie was so damn long…and if you were bored while reading this review, again I blame the movie for that…:P

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Ankur Grover permalink
    March 6, 2009 1:11 pm

    The scene where Benjamin describes Daisy’s accident is brilliant .. I just loved it … You should mention that in the review …

    • Hemanth permalink*
      March 6, 2009 2:00 pm

      @Ankur: Thanks for the reminder dude! Can’t believe I it skipped my mind while writing this piece. Have included it in my review…:)

  2. March 6, 2009 3:19 pm

    I constantly had questions while watching the movie like: teeth fall off with old agem how did BB get them while he gets younger 😛
    Well,for me Cate Blanchett’s role was outstanding.Pitt’s role got interesting when he gets younger and younger and comes to see his daughter.That scene was brilliantly shot.
    The tagline is superb.’Life is not measured in minutes but in moments’.and the ending too,for me,is the pick.
    david fincher,another elite director,gets a good tale to narrate but it does fall short of his earlier masterpieces.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      March 6, 2009 3:48 pm

      @Rajeev…Dei…the teeth funda is too much!..:) Although I find your curiosity very curious!..:D. Yeah, the movie does have its share of brilliance…but since the spark isn’t there all the time w.r.t to scenes or the dialogues, I wouldn’t categorize it as a Masterpiece. Could have been better…:)

      • March 6, 2009 6:00 pm

        yeah yeah teeth funda is asking too much 😛

  3. Udki permalink
    March 6, 2009 3:57 pm

    Have you seen the TED talk in which the digital effects guy explains how they made the older looking version of brad pittś face? If not,

    It is a must watch. They have done so much research and put in so much efforts to do that. I was amazed when I came to know that they have digitally recreated bard pitt’s face for the first 1 hour of the movie. His face looked so real.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      March 6, 2009 4:00 pm

      @Udki…Woah…thanks for the link dude..I haven’t seen this video…shall put it in the main article..:). Yeah…the older version of Brad Pitt was brilliant..Agreed!..:)

  4. March 6, 2009 9:53 pm

    very rarely do i watch a 3 hour movie and it feels like only an hour has gone by. Very beautifully directed film, although I expect nothing less from Fincher. great post!

    I, too, have a movie review blog, check it out if you ever have a free moment.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      March 7, 2009 10:48 pm

      @cello85…thanks a lot! I will definitely check out your blog…And you should recommend quite a few Japanese movies as well..:)

  5. Raghu permalink
    October 9, 2009 5:50 am

    Name any other movie of which he performed better than CCBB…. I do feel he does deserve a nomination for this one…if not win it.

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