Thursday, 01 October 2020
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 07 January 2009 19:50

ThumbnailThere is one certainty in life that none of us are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be exempt from. Everyone is born, and everyone dies. In between we might experience happiness, hardships, fear, and hopefully a passionate love to make it all worthwhile. I guess the old saying is true, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, except that in the end something always does you in.

But enough of my philosophizing when we’re here to talk about a movie! That’s it - just a movie! The elaborate form of entertainment that has become expert at condensing our lives into tidy little two-hour packages, or in this case a slightly more meandering three-hour package. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is film on a grand scale or at least it tries very hard to be. And you know what? Kudos to Hollywood for actually trying to make a movie that is original and interesting, a movie that makes you think about life in a different way. It’s not a perfect film - but if there are any life lessons to be learned it is that there is beauty to be found, even in imperfection.

Benjamin Button is born under strange circumstances in the early 1900’s. His mother dies during delivery and his father is disgusted by the strange infant and abandons him on the steps of a senior’s residence. Luckily for Benjamin that is where he is least likely to draw attention, having been born with the body of a tiny old man. He ages in reverse, being trapped in an arthritic, decrepit body as a child and blossoming into the insanely beautiful Bradd Pitt in his old age. I’m not normally the type of girl to gush over Brad Pitt but he really does look quite stunning when he finally gets out of the prosthetics and makeup.

ThumbnailThis is a movie told on a grand scale – think Forrest Gump, or Tim Burton’s Big Fish. It may even be a little reminiscent of the French film Amalie, though not as memorable. Nothing is small and everything is immaculately designed. The makeup, and aging effects are great, if a little disconcerting. I don’t care if Benjamin is only seven years old it is still creepy to see an old man huddled by candlelight under a table with a little girl. The little girl, Daisy, eventually grows up and becomes the love of his life. Cate Blanchett plays Daisy and looks absolutely radiant at any age, though in certain scenes about twenty years are carefully soft-focused and airbrushed off her face.

Unfortunately one of the things hurting the film is the lack of chemistry between the two lead actors. They both put in decent performances, but when they finally meet in the middle and are able to pursue a relationship the romance is dry. Blanchett’s character isn’t really someone I liked all that much, especially as a forward thinking twenty-year-old. Though I guess her immaturity is intentional in order to contrast Benjamin’s years of experience.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will draw you in if you let it, but someone looking for fast action or thrills will need toothpicks to keep their eyes open. It is slow, surreal fairytale journey.