To take a quote from Charles Dickens completely out of context, â€œIt was the best of times; it was the worst of timesâ€. That was the thought I had concerning the new fantasy, romance, drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Though certainly not the greatest film I have ever experienced it was by far the most fantastic film, both visually and as a story. Full of memorable characters and moments that made me wonder if director David Fincher had been embodied with the spirit of Tim Burton, this film is certainly one to capture the hearts of many. That said I wonder if it where too much of a good thing.
Based on the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Benjamin Buttons (Brad Pitt) is a curious case indeed. Born with the body of an 80 year old man he becomes younger as he grows older. The film chronicles his life from the 1920â€™s as he goes through each decade becoming more youthful as those he loves grow older and pass on. He learns much in his travels and the people he meets as each one form a part of his life. His heart belongs to one woman in particular, Daisy (Cate Blanchett), who he loves but struggles with the differences in their lives.
To most of us the thought of looking younger as we grow older inside seems like a good deal. Where do I sign? But we see from this story that there is a natural progression of life that has been set in motion and to alter it costs us more than we ever would gain. There is much humor to be found in this film as people around Benjamin try to understand how someone who looks like they are 70 has never experienced most of life. With the feel of films like Forest Gump and Big Fish, Buttons meets all sorts of characters along his journey. Each seems like a tall tale and the direction and filming style add to this fantastic story telling.
The most amazing part of this film is the makeup and visual effects. As the film scans nearly 8 decades it is wild to watch the characters age, and in Benjaminâ€™s case, grow younger. Cate Blanchett looks like she could easily be a teenager in some of the earlier scenes. Her face takes on a youthful look that seems almost like a painting. Likewise, Pitt looks like he did in A River Runs Through It or Thelma and Louise. It isnâ€™t Brad Pitt in makeup; it is a young Brad Pitt. This ability to flawlessly manipulate age and time makes Benjamin Buttons even more fantastic.
Another important element in a film like this is acting. No matter how unbelievable the story, we still need to believe the characters. There is never a worry with people like Blanchett or Julia Ormond who plays Daisyâ€™s daughter and discovers this story along with us. I must say though they were all outshone by Taraji P. Henson who plays Queenie, the lady who raises the young, orphaned Benjamin. Hers is an award deserving performance that is full of warmth, love and humor. She captivates every scene she is in. They revolve around her and she does not disappoint.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is rated PG-13 for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking. This is certainly a film for the 14 and up crowd. The story deals with life and love lost and there are a few scenes of adult themed sexual adventure. That along with the fairly course language it earned its PG-13 rating. Though the 3 hour run time moves quick enough there are times that seem lethargic and monotonous. One moment you are caught up in the fantasy and then you find yourself dulled for a moment or two. I give Benjamin a solid 4 out of 5 lightening strikes. Again, not the greatest film I have seen but most certainly one worth seeing.
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