Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Movie Review

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Movie Review

Rating: 8/10

Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng

Directed by: David Fincher


David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac) reunites with Brad Pitt in his latest release, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
As New Orleans celebrates the end of the Great War, a boy is born. Severely deformed and exhibiting the symptoms of a dying man, the baby is discovered on the steps of a nursing home by an African-American woman who immediately takes him in.

Benjamin Button (Pitt) is no ordinary child. As he grows up amongst the elderly, it becomes apparent he's getting younger as the years pass.

Told in fairy tale style, we watch as Benjamin finds his footing (literally), gets swept up into a life as a seaman during World War II. He falls in love with a rich British aristocrat (Tilda Swinton) before returning to the States for his true love, Daisy (Blanchett).

Loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was adapted for the screen by the famed Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich).

Like Forrest Gump, The Curious Case is a story of a Southern outsider on a journey, with the same quirky characters, historical events and wry moments of wisdom thrown in for good measure.

However Benjamin Button is a more nuanced character than the uncomplicated Forrest Gump: this is a man who has toiled with death, ageing and displacement throughout his life.

The Curious Case is a demanding script, requiring the leads to cover 80 years of their character's lives in the space of two and a half hours. Brad Pitt is brilliant in a role that requires subtlety, humility and loneliness. His make-up artist deserves top marks for transforming Pitt from a tiny frail man, through the middle-aged spread, into a teenager.

Cate Blanchett is stunning as Benjamin's love, Daisy. Blanchett successfully captures Daisy's young naivety, her ballet-dancing elegance and her tender final days as she reminisces on Benjamin's life.

The script carefully dodges potential potholes - the close friendship seven-year-old Daisy shares with 85-year-old Benjamin being perhaps the most difficult scenes to negotiate.

The film is whimsical and charming, with quirky scenes thrown in to reflect the eccentric plot. If only there were more - but this, after all, a big budget Hollywood production catered to mainstream audiences.

The film takes it's time as it explores the curious case of Benjamin Button - after all, life is a journey, not a destination.

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