Thursday, January 01, 2009

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008) - Movie Review

The faces we capture in our minds when we meet some one new would be a house for ugly pictures in any ways. Beautiful, ugly, fat, old, physically disabled, odd, perfect and the description we do in the brains are some times disgusting to ourselves. It is an uncontrollable mind game, a voice inside fighting to think one and the other killing to raise a conscience. What is it in the appearance and the definition of it? How old means and young means to the life of dead times? “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” while says happening in the reality of life is a land of surreal images put together beautifully questioning those in the ages which takes the beauty of appearance and the ugliness of inside.

In the old methods of story telling, a woman in her death bed Daisy (Cate Blanchett) asks her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) to read that dusted diary to her. Thus begins the readings from the diary of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) right from his daddy Mr. Button (Jason Flemyng) abandoning him truly afraid of what kind of creature this baby really is at the door step of an old home. The old home is run by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) and she takes this weird baby into her home. The baby has the physicality of an 85 year old man and with the doctor declaring very little time left, Queenie takes care of him. Of course there is no trouble him surrounded by old people as he looks like one. And as the years pass he changes growing younger inch by inch to every one’s surprise. This is his journey of understanding life in backwards or so you would think.

The film cleverly disguises many of its practical complication under the shadows of this land accommodating Button conveniently. The land of course is the existing New Orleans Louisiana but the people occurring in the life of Benjamin are far from reality. The differences as much it would exist in the lives of us does not need to get exaggerated more in the film. Director David Fincher uses it to his advantage and this film takes its shape and character from those very people. It uses them as Paul Thomas Anderson does in “Magnolia”. In their non-existence comes the reason for our existence.

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” has make up and effects to its strengthening screenplay by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord adapting from the short story of same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Brad Pitt does a disciplined performance and I am amazed by his film selection. Last year with a calm and complex role of “The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford” and now with this. He has a visible arduous task as an actor wherein he not alone need to grow with the screenplay but also understand and acknowledge the appearance of the exterior this man has to show.

Now the premise should not fool any one on the difficulties of him growing up and the philosophical learnings from it. Rather Button has a rather adventurous and interesting life despite his abnormal growing up. His childhood is among the old people and he hears them grow as a child in minds and body giving up on itself. He is nurtured in a place which is a one stop before kicking the bucket. One point some one says “I am getting old” and he says “There is nothing wrong with the old age”. Here is the man who has completely in terms of his demise well before hitting youth.

The story of Button is a careful execution in the fields of soap operatic romance, a crazy travel for an young man and most of all the people he meets. There is Captain Mike (Jared Harris) as with many of us wonders what he is doing in a tugboat while his real passion lies some where else. But then he is also a drunk sobering to drink again. Then the old man Mr. Daws (Ted Manson) in the home in many instances explaining his seven lightnings hit over him in a very funny manner since we know he survived. Another resident in the home Mrs. Maple (Edith Ivey) recluse but develops a friendship with this old looking young Benjamin and teaches him to play Piano. And how about his first love with Mrs. Abbott (Tilda Swinton). Every one of them along with others and his dad coming back in his life are a mark of the best moments in one’s life.

David Fincher gives a beautiful film. Whether it touches reality or deals the premise in the right sense is a different debate but the film in its completeness as said is a presentation of an epic. It in its surreal nature sweeps us off in the end hardly imaging the old Benjamin in his youth or the younger fit Benjamin in his middle age. We are not able to place him in appearance as an image thinking back of the scenes in the old home. He is a character like any other and in his life he stumbles as any one and has somethings to say. Somethings to say about death, love, tragedy, loss, sex, and life. I thought Fincher had me cornered in the ring and about to give me a knockout punch putting me in the state of wonder all together but he taps a friendly slap and gives a hand. I thought by doing that he lessened the beauty of the film but actually it is a state higher than that. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is one of 2008’s best films.


coffee said...

Benjamin Button was very Fincher-esque... almost as good as his other stuff if not for some nagging plot holes

Ashok said...

It sure did had many practical problems but as you said, very wonderful film done with care and detail.

By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and feedbacks are always welcome.

Reel Fanatic said...

Even when we disagree as here, Ashok, you do make a strong case ... And even though I really didn't care for Brad Pitt in this too much at all once the make up came off, I certainly agree that he almost always picks interesting movies to star in

Ashok said...

I can understand why it would not satiate certain movie goers but Fincher gave a film very true in its detail. Brad Pitt has always surprised me and in this he does that too. While doing such roles he is completely hilarious in "Burn After Reading".