Staggeringly sad, startlingly thought provoking The Curious Case of Benjamin Button left me feeling like I had just walked out of a Chekhov play: drained, somber and yet completely absorbed. Excellent performances by Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt and a great story by F. Scott Fitzgerald manage to combine to bring about a unique movie experience. The film is about life, love and loss for an amazing man, a man that lives life backwards. Unfortunately that may not be a good enough draw to get the audience the film deserves.
Brad Pitt starts as Benjamin Button a man destined to be born very old and grow younger. Cate Blanchett is Daisy the young girl he meets near the beginning of this odd journey through the years. Most of the film revolves around the confusing emotions surrounding their bond of love. As a baby (and ugly as sin) the young Benjamin is abandoned by his father, a button manufacturer. His mother had died at childbirth and the father promised to keep him safe. Benjamin’s early years are spent in a wheel chair in an old folk’s home taken care of by his adopted mother a very kind and loving black woman named Queenie, (Taraji P. Henson). She manages to enlist the aid of everone around her to love and care for this unusual old/young man. Hensen deserves great credit for creating a believable, enjoyable and quite engaging character.
The film is interesting, if a little long in spots, and brilliantly filmed. The direction is good, the cinematography astounding and the settings beautiful. The acting in Button was good, the characters mostly believable and the director let the story drive the action. I felt that Pitt’s accent was too heavy and his makeup did not change enough over time to help the illusion of growing younger. The personality of Daisy (Button's girl of choice) was not wholly consistent through the film and it was quite hard to link the very mature young girl to the rather flighty adult she became. Perhaps a problem with direction but more likely an issue with Blanchett.
I do not think most people are going to enjoy the film and hesitate to recommend it but, it is well done. I cannot say I truly liked the film, it was far too much of a downer, but I did find it interesting. If you’re a true movie fanatic see the film in the theatre, the big screen adds to the experience, but if a not you may find yourself in a theatre that you wish you were not. If you want to see a film about an unusual southern boy might I suggest Forrest Gump…it’s far more entertaining and uplifting.
I am going to give it 3 stars out of 5.