Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

directed by David Fincher

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button poster  
Some of the things we wish for turn out to be nowhere near as good as we imagined. Anyone old enough to notice the signs of ageing will have wished at one time or another that the clock could be turned back, and that a person could grow young instead of growing old. Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt, and several other actors) lives his life in reverse, born into an old body and becoming more youthful as time passes.

When Benjamin's mother dies in childbirth his father rejects the ugly-looking infant, and leaves him on a doorstep. Fortunately for Benjamin he ends up with Queenie (Taraji Henson), a kind young woman in New Orleans. Queenie is childless, so she raises him as her own, in spite of his infirmities. She doesn't expect him to live long. Queenie runs an old people's home, so old age and death are ever-present.

The movie is framed by scenes of Daisy (Cate Blanchett) on her deathbed, whilst she asks her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) to read from Benjamin's diary. So death dominates the film more than any other theme.

It's hard to escape the feeling that there's a lot more fun to be had with the premise of an old mind in a young body, and vice versa. On the whole the comedic aspects are played down in favour of a slightly more serious tone. The story picks up on the way people react to difference, particularly when the character of Ngunda Oti (Rampai Mohadi) meets the young but old-looking Benjamin. There is humour, but it's subtle and underplayed, and it focuses on the quirky characters of New Orleans.

We follow Benjamin's life through the major events of the 20th century, including his time working on a tugboat and travelling the world, and the role he played in the war. There are plenty of period details. His relationship with Daisy is a central theme, but like everything else the romance and potential tragedy of the situation is underplayed.

Several actors play both Daisy and Benjamin, but for the most part their faces are rejuvenated and aged with special effects. These are so convincing that you may find yourself staring at their faces in order to look for flaws and to figure out which shots feature the actors as they really are. The special effects team really have done an astounding job.

Action scenes are subdued in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. There certainly aren't as many of the chases and explosions that big-budget films often rely on to prop up the pace. As a result this movie can seem a little slow. But that's exactly what makes it more believable, and it's never dull. If you're looking for a film with some depth, and a host of charming and colourful side-characters, look no further.

If you want to know whether a life lived backwards is something of a curse, you'll have to watch the movie. Fortunately, though, watching this life story turns out to be a pleasant experience.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

The Time Traveler    

The Time Traveler's Wife by Robert Schwentke
Henry can travel through time. But is his ability a blessing or a curse?

4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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