The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Apple – 3/5
An adaption of the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of my favorite authors, came out a while ago on Christmas Day. It seemed like a big downer, so I passed it by until now. “Benjamin Button” is the story of a man who ages backwards – he is born ancient, and then slowly grows younger, year by year. It is the story of his love for a woman, Daisy, played beautifully by Cate Blanchett. Brad Pitt stars as Benjamin in his middle to young ages. It is amazing what special effects can do with the artificial aging of characters.
The movie is slow to get started; we don’t hear the name Benjamin for quite some time. I even checked to make sure I was watching the right movie. Daisy always seems awfully mature for her age, and makes friends with an elderly Benjamin early on in the film.
The story premise is very interesting – Benjamin goes through similar things that growing children do – reading, learning how to play the piano. But there are only a few threads plucked from the original short story: besides the original premise, spending time working on a boat. There are a few beautiful shots – Daisy dancing in the night against a backdrop of fog,
For a story that is about growing younger, “Benjamin Button” is morbidly obsessed with the passing of friends and the brevity of crossing paths. Tilda Swinton does an excellent job as a love interest, but her character fades from the movie without even a goodbye. The people we meet from Benjamin’s childhood die and grow old; he lives in a nursing home. There is one extended scene leading to an accident, where Benjamin imagines all the circumstances that led up to it – all the individual people whose lives intersected.
For the most part, the movie crawls along at a snail’s place, documenting Benjamin’s life and his many acquaintances. My major complaint is simply the length of the movie – there were many times when I paused and had to walk around, I was so bored and frustrated with the pace. When Benjamin finally grows into childhood, I was relieved. However, it says something in that I did end up finishing the movie, and thinking back, at least enjoyed the colorful life of Benjamin Button.
Overall – 3/5; far too slow, depressing (especially for a Christmas-day release), but nevertheless lovely at quite a few moments.