A rich, heart-warming film that takes the unusual premise of a man growing younger and using it to provide a number of life lessons about making the most of what you have been given.
Director David Fincher has made some very rich and complex films in his career, many exploring the darker sides of humanity. With The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (check out the Theatrical Release), he still retains his unique style but manages to fuse it with a more heart-warming feel without losing touch with reality which he could easily have done given the quirky premise of a man born old who grows younger.
Many great themes of life, love and death are covered, particularly the ideas of destiny, fate and choice. Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is abandoned at birth by his father who thinks he is a monster. He is taken in by a loving black woman who raises him in her old person’s home who are there to live out their few remaining years.
As Benjamin grows, he gains a unique perspective on life; he learns quickly about the end of life and what it means to not waste any moments you have been given. Coupled with his unusual condition which makes him an outcast, Benjamin develops in to a gentle, non-judgmental character you cannot help but love.
This is no more demonstrated in his relationship with Daisy (Cate Blanchett) whom he meets early in his life and leads to a rocky friendship to an eventual loving relationship. Fate continues to bring them together, and when their respective ages become closer, they develop a relationship which is full of highs, but is doomed to end early as their age gap begins to widen again.
One brilliantly constructed scene involves a car accident involving Daisy. Benjamin re-constructs the incident in his mind, pointing out a number of very minor events, and if even one of these minor events had not occurred, she would not have been on the street at the time she was involved in the accident. In many ways, this scene envelopes the finer themes of fate that run throughout this film and how life can take things away from you in a single moment, a lesson which works for all of us in that we should never take our lives for granted.
Both Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are perfect in their respective roles. Pitt delivers a very understated performance that is instantly loveable given Benjamin’s gentle persona. Blanchett creates a complicated girl who has a very turbulent early life but becomes content and grounded when she becomes more intimately involved with Benjamin. The images are absolutely glorious. David Fincher is renowned for creating vivid, and carefully constructed shots and he does not disappoint in this movie, with each picture being a movie in itself.
As for any negative points, the film feels a little long-winded. At over two and a half hours, the film does have a slow pace which could have been improved with some editing. The film is not boring, but there were some moments where I found myself shifting in my seat, more because of the running time than the story. The scenes involving Daisy as a dying woman in the hospital with her daughter reading Benjamin’s diary do not always fit naturally in to the Benjamin’s life story, and the moment where her daughter realises that Benjamin is her real father does not seem fair to the character when it happens.
In many ways, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has a lot in common with Forrest Gump, but unlike the latter film, Curious Case does not have the same energy or pace to make it stand out as a masterpiece. Having made these points however, David Fincher has done a fabulous job with this film and it is worth seeing at the cinema.
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