The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
December 25, 2008
Movie of the Day for Saturday, August 16, 2008
See other Movies of the Day
On the Big Board
||Beautifully shot and acted, thought-provoking if a little long.
||Excellent performances, a good movie - not the year's best, but certainly good enough.
||I'd describe this as Legends of the Fall meets Forrest Gump meets Nicholas Sparks. Awkward in the beginning but moving by the end.
||Surprisingly average - and creepy. It's bloated and dull a lot of the time, with a really fine performance from Taraji P. Henson.
||This is too shamelessly derivative of the writer's prior work, Forrest Gump, to be ignored. It's also too long by a full hour.
"I was born under unusual circumstances."
This simple statement aptly summarizes the imaginative story that is the basis for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Originally written in 1992, this F. Scott Fitzgerald short story is a play upon the Mark Twain notable quotable that “The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity.” The titular lead character in the story, Benjamin Button, lives life backwards and I mean that literally.
Benjamin Button is born a decrepit old man in appearance, then ages in reverse until the day he dies as a newborn infant. Obviously, such behavior is unsettling to those who witness it yet many who come into contact with Button are quickly drawn in by his plight. He develops friendships in his native Baltimore, Maryland, and he even manages to live an ordinary life during the time wherein his appearance is largely similar to others of his age. Sure, they gain gray hair as they get older while he loses gray hair as he gets younger; however, during this time frame, the significant difference that separates BenButt from his friends is not as dramatic as at the beginning and the end.
The central conceit of this story as well as its film adaptation is easy to describe. The execution of it is where the artistry lies. Recognizing this, Paramount Pictures has hired David Fincher to reunite with his old Se7en buddy, Brad Pitt, for this project. Pitt will portray Button while Academy Award winning actress Cate Blanchett will portray his romantic interest, Daisy. Presumably, the movie will not end with her head in a box, but given the fact that he will look 70 when she looks 17, their relationship will be Hugh Heffner-ian in appearance. In case you are wondering (and I know I was), Pitt will not portray Button at every point in his life. Other actors will take on the role at different moments in order to drive home the discrepancies in looks as the character reverse-ages.
The trailer for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has been well received and the studio believes the title can be a box office hit as well as an end-of-year awards contender. The key aspect will be whether this title has depth to it or if the “man ages backwards” premise proves to be a one trick pony. Under any circumstance, Cate Blanchett will get an Academy Awards nomination for this. She gets them more often than your average kid gets a Happy Meal. (David Mumpower/BOP)