Every year, my family and I get together and watch a movie each Christmas. Last year it was “Charlie Wilson’s War”. This year it was the beauty of a tale, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. From the moment I had seen the trailers, I was intrigued by the storyline. The film follows the life of Benjamin Button, who, unlike everyone else, is born old, with all the ailments of an old man. Life is observed through his pair of eyes; everyone around him is growing old but Benjamin is growing younger.
First and foremost, this film is a commentary on life, not only that of Benjamin Button’s, but on all of our lives, and how we all unknowingly have an influence on each other. On how we learn what’s important in life by the losses and experiences we go through, and never to take life for granted. This was a film filled with lessons, subtle and poignant, aided by an excellent screenplay that did not directly preach or tell the audience how they should think. Though there are many strong films that explore this similar viewpoint, I find the idea of an old man growing young a rather unique story telling vehicle for delivering these lessons. Also, utilizing moments in history to gives us an idea of the movement in time made the fantasy-like elements of the movie seem more rooted in reality.
Brad Pitt does a wonderful job as Benjamin Button, as does the makeup and the computer effects department. Physically old but young in age Benjamin Button was unbelievable. His facial expressions displayed youth and vivacity under the wrinkles, which made it easy to see how he was so physically old but so young like a kid. The scene where he’s playing with fighting figurines was quite humorous, as were so many scenes where slight touches were added for the scene to spring to life. Each of the characters and people Benjamin met throughout his life were well developed, that in just the few lines we were given to gain an understanding in the people he encountered, we felt a connection with these people (from the man who was struck by lightning, the woman who taught him piano, etc.) With just those lines, these characters were brought to life with such distinct personalities that with less than ten minutes, I felt these characters were more human than other films where the main character is as three dimensional as a screen protector.
My biggest problem with this film was the length. Clocking in at two hours and 48 minutes, I felt that about a half hours worth of material should have been cut. I felt the beginning and the ending were well paced, but a few places in the middle started to drag and I felt myself saying “This is a very long movie… he’s still old.. I wonder when it ends..”
I find this film to be rather polarizing in opinion. On one side, people will say this movie was brilliant. On the other side, people describe it to be boring, horrible, mindless drivel. I think this movie deserves at the least for the viewer to make up their own mind and decide for themselves whether or not they enjoy the movie instead of hearing it from someone else. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but in my mind, it is one of my favorites this year – especially the visual delights, the acting and the effective storytelling. David Fincher has a winner here and he certainly did not let me down in the slightest. It has succeeded in making me very curious about the original book, and I will definitely have to get my hands on it!
My rating: 4/5, Highly recommended. 4 due to the length.