‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ is a hard film to classify. Is it a fantasy? Is it a sweeping love story, or a visual effects spectacle, or meditation on life, death, love and time? To properly appreciate the film, you must accept it as all of these things, because it truly has alot to offer. Perhaps more than any other film this year.
The film is essentially a showcase for Brad Pitt, who is surprisingly subtle and quiet as the title character. He is what people will be talking about after the movie. Half for his great performance, the other half for the remarkable make-up and special effects employed to effectively ‘age’ backwards. I can safely say that the technology in this movie, and perhaps this movie in general, will change the way and standard that movies are made.
On the last day of the first World War, Benjamin Button is born a baby, but outwardly appears to be 85 years old. As he becomes older, he grows younger. But along the way he leaves for war, travels, sails, and falls in love with ballet dancer Daisy. But with her growing older and him growing younger, it can’t possibly last.
This just goes to show that to be a visual effects spectacle, you don’t have to have giant stunts and big explosions. That visual effects can be so integrated yet so invisible, most of the time you don’t even notice them. The sheer force of what you’ve just seen mostly hits you after the film, where you truly begin to realize just how elaborate and complex the special effects must have been.
Cate Blanchett is, no surprise, great as Daisy. It seems these days another day, another awesome Blanchett performance. As Kate Hepburn, a Russian agent, Queen Elizabeth, heck even Bob Dylan, Blanchett completely disappears into every role she tackles.
Although initially Daisy is a one-note character, over time (and through some awesome aging makeup) she becomes a complex, sympathetic character. Some particularly good, but tragic scenes towards the end are single-handedly carried by her. Especially the very end, which prompted many sniffles from the audience. I’ll just say it’s both predictable and hard-hitting at the same time.
The film has been compared to ‘Forrest Gump’, wrongfully so. Yes, they are written by the same guy, and follow a man’s life and the incredible things they see, but the comparisons end there. ‘Forrest Gump’ is more fun, but ‘Benjamin Button’ is flat out better. Period.
David Fincher, known for ‘Seven’ and ‘Fight Club’ takes the helm of ‘Benjamin Button’, and he couldn’t have done it better. The film doesn’t wander around, seeking to elicit emotions randomly, like it so easily could have. It’s rather funny. Fincher has been known for dark, violent fare, but if his future epics turn out to be like this, he will be the next David Lean.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a great film on all levels. It’s surprisingly funny at times. The storytelling is expansive, the film is undermined by great performances. The visual effects deserve an Oscar. Maybe the movie does too. A