Movie Review: 'The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button' - Celebrity Bug


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Movie Review: 'The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button'

"I was born under unusual circumstances." And so begins "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: a man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. We follow his story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man's life can be.

Scripted by Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", takes you on a magical ride with Benjamin (Brad Pitt), as he conquers the life as a elderly man in looks, but not at heart, until he parishes well into his eighties as a baby.

Eric Roth takes an similar approached used in "Forrest Gump", which he also penned, but also does enough to give Benjamin has own sense of identity and fortunately he doesn't stop there. The supporting characters, who are all full of range and completeness, as they all teach Benjamin something about life, taking the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child.", to another level.

Roth, unveils the premise quickly, by tying in a grieving inventor, who after losing his son in the Great War, contrives a massive clock that spins in reverse.

Shortly after his birth, his mother parishes, which leaves his father horrified, and plays a part in him deciding to leave the ancient looking newborn on the doorsteps of a retirement home, where he is raised by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson).

Daisy, the love of his life, played by the dynamic Cate Blanchett, are the bookends for the story, as a brittle Daisy is read to by her grown daughter (Julia Ormond) from the diary of her beloved Benjamin.

Benjamin's journey also pushes forward as he learns from each of the people that come into his life, including a tugboat captain (Jared Harris) who shows him the world, Elizabeth (Tilda Swinton), the wife of a British spy who falls in love with Benjamin in Russia and engages in an discreet affair.

The middle part focuses on his life with Daisy, who eventually bears his child, which is ultimately why Benjamin makes the decision to leave. Besides the fears of the baby being like him, he knows he's getting younger in thoughts and that he can't properly raise a baby, furthermore, he doesn't want to put Daisy in the position to have to care for both him and the baby. To which Daisy insists, "Sugar, we all end up in diapers."

The storyline was a winner all the way, for me, I loved how they let Benjamin and Daisy meet in the middle, as far as ages are concerned, and I also love how they let Daisy come back and take care of Benjamin from his youth years until he takes his final breathe.

The acting in this movie was simply superb, as both Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson give the best performances of their careers. Pitt, effortlessly, lets loose on the emotion, but not in an over dramatic way, its very low key and straight to the point. That said, he convinces you so immensely that your heart feels for Benjamin during the difficult times and is made lighter when he experiences success or gratification as a human being.

As previously stated, Henson gives her best performance and her most believable, in fact, having seen this performance I can't reaffirm my initial comments on her acting skills, but I can say that I hope she carefully selects her next role, as it could make or break her. As for her nomination, it was well deserved, same with Pitt.

Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, both already Academy Award winners, also deliver great performances, but Tilda's role didn't have enough depth to warrant a nomination, and given the stiff competition this year, I'm not surprised Cate was left out. That said, both delivered on the performance front, aside from both being a little vague at times.

Direction & Visual:
Visually, the collaboration of David Fincher (director), Claudio Miranda (cinematography), Donald Graham Burt (production design), Eric Barba (visual effects), as well as, music by Alexandre Desplat, all blend together to create a uniquely enjoyable journey that looks as good as it plays out.

Given the nominations, I went into the theatre with mixed emotions, but I knew it would either be a really good picture or a really boring one. Luckily, it wasn't the ladder. The movie was full of heart from beginning to end and the nearly three hour run time failed to bother me, as the movie never seemed to get uninteresting or condescending, but instead held its own from start to finish.

I really enjoyed it, and since Brad Pitt or the movie have yet to collect a prize, I really have to go see Sean Penn, in "Milk", and "Slumdog Millionaire", because both have to be two extremely well put together performances and pictures to continuously take the cake.

5 out of 5

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