US Release Date: 12-25-2008
Directed by: David Fincher
- Brad Pitt, as
- Benjamin Button
- Cate Blanchett, as
- Jason Flemyng, as
- Thomas Button
- Taraji P. Henson, as
- Julia Ormond, as
- Ed Metzger, as
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Donna Duplantier, as
- Blanche Devereaux
- Joeanna Sayler, as
- Mrs. Button
- Jared Harris, as
- Captain Mike
- Phyllis Somerville, as
- Grandma Fuller
- Tilda Swinton, as
- Elizabeth Abbott
- Elle Fanning as
- Daisy - Age 6
There is always something to look at during this movie.
Perhaps the most curious thing about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is that after 2 hours and 45 minutes it seems to be about so little. Sure, it tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who is born old and gets younger instead of older, but even given that most remarkable plot point the movie never really does much with it. Perhaps the only thing even more curious than that is the fact that despite this, I still enjoyed the movie.
At its core this is a love story. Benjamin (Pitt), as I said, is born old and is growing younger. Daisy (Blanchett) is, as most people are, born young and growing older. There are some awkward intimations of love between the two early in the movie (and it comes off as really kind of creepy with the "old" man falling for the young girl), but it isn't really until they both reach the middle of their lives that they meet again and fall in love properly. Of course the tragedy is that soon Benjamin will be a child while Daisy will be passing into her dotage.
David Fincher, the director, knows how to shoot beautiful scenes, so that there's always something to look at on the screen, which is good because this is such a long movie that you need something to look at. Benjamin lives through most of the 20th century. I wish Fincher had thought that including some of the more interesting historical occurrences of that century would have spiced up the story, but apparently he didn't. If it weren't for the changing clothes fashion, you'd hardly be aware of the changing time at all.
Pitt's Benjamin is really rather dull. He underplays him to the point of near boredom. If he wasn't so good looking he wouldn't have any defining features at all. His liveliest moment is when he loses his virginity in a brothel. It's one of the movies few light-hearted moments and it could have used a few more of them. The chemistry between Pitt and Blanchett is rather tame as well. Their love is movie love where you're told that they love each other, but little evidence is given as to why they do.
So it doesn't sound as though I enjoyed the movie very much does it? And yet I was never really bored. As I said, the movie is beautiful to look at and the effect of Benjamin's youthening is done remarkably well. So there's always something to look at onscreen. And there's always the hint that something remarkable could happen next, but it never really does. It's a movie with potential that's never quite fulfilled.
Benjamin Button beginning to grow younger.
“And there's always the hint that something remarkable could happen next, but it never really does.” Scott you summed it up perfectly. That’s exactly how I felt watching it. The main conceit of Benjamin’s backwards aging is incredible but the script itself is very average. The mood of the movie is very somber, there is not enough joy in it.
I kept waiting for Benjamin’s youth, thinking they could do a lot with the idea of him being an old experienced man but with everyone else assuming he was an adolescent. Of course by the time he grew “young” the movie was already running too long. I think they could have trimmed some of the beginning.
Two other points Scott made I also agree with. First the passage of time could have been handled better. Other than World War II, we get almost nothing of 20th Century current events as they are passing. And the love story between Benjamin and Daisy never seems real. It is similar to the relationship between Forrest Gump and Jenny, which shouldn’t be a surprise since the same person wrote both screenplays. Unfortunately Forrest Gump is better written.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for all its flaws, does manage to entertain. But like Scott, I was hoping for something a bit more remarkable. A great premise that fails to deliver, this should have been a classic, but is alas, only a curiosity.
Even Brad Pitt had a hard time staying awake.
Even if a movie is not mildly exciting to watch, some still have messages that can elevate the film and leave you thinking about it. The Wrestler says that no matter what your job, we all put on personas for it. Vicky Cristina Barcelona tells of the difference between love and passion. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not at all exciting and unfortunately has little to no meaning. At the end there is a little statement about everything happens just when it is supposed to, and then the hurricane hits New Orleans. Is there meaning there? Hell if I know.
This movie could not drag any slower if it tried. Benjamin travels around meeting people and loves a woman for no apparent reason other than they met when they were young. Scott always writes that he hates depressing movies. This movie could be more depressing if it tried. Benjamin seems to have very few happy moments in his life. In one brief scene he is driving on a motorcycle, I think its in the 50s. He looks serious, when he should have had a huge smile on his face as he is younger and free to roam. The movie ends on a sad note for everyone involved. This movie was a complete waste of time.
Okay, I liked one part. I laughed every time the old man said, “Did I ever tell you I was struck by lightning seven times.” And then they show a real brief silent film clip of him getting hit by lightning. It put a smile on my face every time.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2008)