The Curious Case of Benjamin Button12A
Life can be a funny thing. Example: watching a film about someone being born old and dying young, can actually make you feel like you're aging dramatically yourself during its 166 minutes running time. Itís true; this film will add years, grey hairs and aching joints to your life. You have been warned. The irony is that the film is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which certainly has fewer pages than this film does minutes.
Brad Pitt plays the eponymous character, born to a wealthy couple, but cast out by the father for being a wrinkly freak. Heís taken in by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) who works in an old peopleís home. Itís there that Benjamin is raised Ė from an old man to a young boy.
As he gets younger, he ventures into the world to experience what life Ė albeit one lived in reversed, has to offer. This includes a not so dangerous liaison with English woman Elizabeth Abbott (Tilda Swinton) in Murmansk, high sea adventures aboard a tugboat, and the ongoing relationship with the love of his life Daisy (Cate Blanchett).
Itís his said relationship with Daisy that is really the filmís undoing. The reason is this Ė it adds nothing to the film. If anything, it overwhelms it with a poignant air of nothingness. Benjaminís life could have been so much more curious without it, thatís for sure.
It gets worse by having Daisy as an old woman tell Benjaminís story by way of flashbacks to her daughter. By doing so, director David Fincher just adds extra baggage that not only does the film not need, but that also belongs to someone else. Curious indeed.
In its favour, Brad Pitt does a good job filling the shoes of Button. Many have said that heís merely trying to out-Gump Forrest. This is way off the mark though; in fact Buttonís journey is more reminiscent of The World According To Garp (a woefully underrated performance by Robin Williams) Ė Button, like Garp, is of sound mind, he just so happens to be living a crazy life.
For Fincher, who has now worked with Pitt three times, this outing will have to be filed under Ďnice tryí. The fact that itís probably one of his lightest projects (coming from the man behind Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac etc) isnít the problem; if only he had steered well clear of getting bogged down with a flimsy, pointless relationship, and focused more on Buttonís many curiosities. If he had done that, Benjamin Buttonís life would have been far more entertaining to follow.