The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I’ll say this right away – what a lovely, enchanting movie. Certainly one of the best I’ve seen in the past year. I’m glad I had the chance to see it well before Oscar season!
The story is a simple but fantastical concept based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Benjamin (Brad Pitt) is a man who was born as a geriatric, and is aging backwards. His “childhood” could have been unusual or tragic were he not taken in by the kind-hearted Queenie (Taraji Henson). He then experiences all he can in life, eventually facing the hard fact that he will watch everyone around him grow old, while he appears to grow younger. Throughout he maintains a love for his sweetheart, Daisy (Cate Blanchett).
Pitt provides the narration throughout in Forrest Gump-style including the Louisiana accent. He’s pretty good in this role, but best in his CGI-enhanced period as a child in an old man’s body. You can see the wonder and hurt in his eyes. Meanwhile Blanchett positively enchants and radiates beauty as a ballet dancer who is finding herself curious and in love with this strange man. Also shockingly beautiful is Tilda Swinton as Benjamin’s early love. She is like some porcelain alien creature – out of place everywhere. But my favorite has to be Henson, who exudes such unconditional love, even when you knew she was acting with a CGI baby or child.
The visuals are luscious, but I did find the pacing to be a bit slow. It’s three hours long and you can tell (unlike Australia, which appeared to blaze by at a fast clip).
My only major complaint was a central conceit that Daisy was telling the story to her daughter (Julia Ormond) while lying in a New Orleans hospital during a hurricane. During THAT hurricane. And they don’t want us to forget it. Hence frequent cuts to a TV screen screaming, “Katrina is coming! Katrina is coming!” Each time that happened I was pulled out of the movie, which was irritating.
That being said, this is a movie to get lost in, that ends in the perfect way. Overall my rating is an A!