Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Time to clean up another mistake from 2008. Before I crashed and burned reviewing all of Christopher Nolan’s films, I had gone through all of David Fincher’s films. Well, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button came out in 2008 without a review. The problem is that this is one of those movies that has not gotten any consistent airings on cable so I completely forgot about it until I was writing about all of Nolan's movies. I’m thinking the running time of nine hours and fifty-three minutes may have been the problem. If you can make it all the way to the ending, this was an intriguing story.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was built around one of them high concept ideas. What if a man aged backwards!?!? That’s it. Now comes the tricky part. The plot is … how shall I put this ... similar to Forrest Gump. The strange man is born in the South and goes on all these crazy adventures while being in love with a woman from his childhood the whole time. There was even a Lt. Dan-like sea captain. It’s actually not that crazy an occurrence since it was the same screenwriter, Eric Roth, as Forrest Gump. On the plus side, there was no on-the-nose AIDS ending this time around. Instead it hit some real emotion that I was not expecting but was amazing to witness.

You don’t get more A-List than Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the starring roles of any movie. Since The Curious Case of Benjamin Button traces their entire lives, they have to share each of their characters with other actors depending on their age. But most of the heavy emotional lifting is done by Pitt and Blanchett. All sorts of computer tricks were used so Pitt could start off as a tiny elderly man and then die as a child. It was some pretty strong work because it always looked like Pitt even when it was physically impossible for him to play the part. Although Cate didn’t go through the computer generator, she did span decades of Daisy’s life. The hours of sitting still all became worthwhile when you saw Daisy’s heartbreak as she watched the childlike Benjamin slowly lose his memories. The two of them carry this movie from beginning to end.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a sprawling movie spanning decades so there were a tons of supporting characters. The highlights were Taraji P. Henson, Jared Harris, and Tilda Swinton. Maybe I should go back and re-evaluate Baby Boy now that Taraji has crafted such a strong resume over the last decade. Now that I can but the sea captain character to the name Jared Harris, I'm intrigued to see what he does as Moriaty in the Sherlock Holmes sequel. I heart Tilda Swinton in everything I see her in. This goes double for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button since she actually got to be a beautiful woman instead of some sort of androgynous boygirl.

I think The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will end up getting lost in the shuffle of David Fincher's career. It is a completely worthy movie that doesn't deserve to be forgotten but that tends to happen when you hit as many high-notes as Fincher has over the last 15 years.

9 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment