The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- David Fincher
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Monday, January 19, 2009
That is because the film is not at all about this extraordinary case. What I mean is, it pretends to be, but itís really not. The film is presented in a pompous but I have to admit very beautiful coating of exquisite photography (Claudio Miranda), beautiful music (Alexandre Desplat), stunning makeup and production design and faultless if lifeless performances (Iíll elaborate on this last token later on). Yet, the story is not at all haunting after it has been established that Benjamin Button, a child born with normal size but horrible afflictions that usually pertain to the old age, raised, ironically, in a nursing home for the elder, is in fact no different to any other children, at least psychologically speaking, because when it comes to his physique heís quite the opposite: his development is in reverse.
Benjamin is, thus, the luckiest of all men who have been on this planet in regards to his health: heís got afflictions aplenty when born and finds a natural cure in his grown that only augments his capacities and vitality and leaves a trail of incapacities in the past. Though his mother died at childbirth and his father neglected him, Benjamin finds a loving adoptive mama in Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), a character so poorly developed she just fills a requisite for the story, giving olí Ben so much love he hardly even notices his situation because heís so strong-willed and sure of himself thanks to that lady.
Some of this is so similar to Forrest Gump (1994) it figures that the scripter of both is the same, Eric Roth, who this time borrowed the original story from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short and expanded it into full length with his (I figure) trademark elements of unconditional love and lack of fear for the unexpected giving an otherwise outcast enough tools to face the world and become a champion in it.
Only Button is no Gump and we can see heís smart enough to know what heís doing, so, even though some of his antics are exciting, weíre never much into him because he pretty much has the same choices that we all have; he makes something of some, nothing of others, and thatís the way it goes for all of us. When he finally has a choice, as we all do, to settle, he does so with his life-long love Daisy (Cate Blanchett), and soon enough and quite cowardly decides that because of his peculiar situation he canít go on with it. What? Heís got a midlife crisis is what heís got, similar to that of the guys who find their fortune at 50 and decide that they should buy a Ferrari like they always wanted, and who the hell cares about their children, let the good wife raise them, heís busy enough making bucks and enjoying them!
So I propose this: strip the ďenchantingĒ story from the extraordinary premise and all youíve got is the story of a real bastard who uses his best excuse to avoid responsibility and live his bachelor life to its fullest. Even Brad Pitt canít pull that off without some of us noticing the scam. And thatís what I said earlier that I would delve upon: Pitt and Blanchett are excellentÖ But their roles are nothing really unconventional. Iíll tell you whoís a standout: Tilda Swinton in a rather bittersweet segment that by the way could be in any movie and isnít made special by the aging situation either.
Postscript: I only unfortunately realized after the film was over that the script was based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. I was already infuriated so I had to look that up and you can already expect my nerdy statement that the story is much better over there, so Iíll skip that. Iíll just say that Fitzgerald was wise enough to give his character a personality and psychology that agreed with his physical age at every stage. That worked! The film just makes Benjamin immature for no reason. Another old man who looked young and acted it just for the hell of it comes to mind: Twilight (2008)ís Edward Cullen.
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter