Monday, May 10, 2010

192. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Brad Pitt
Cate Blanchett
Taraji P. Henson

IMDb Rating: 8
My Rating: 5.5

"It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you."

Instead of being born with the soft skin baby and good health that most of us were, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was brought into the world resembling a man well into his eighties. His mother died in child birth, leaving his father Thomas Button terrified and confused. Thomas leaves Benjamin on the doorstep of a local nursing home caretaker Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), who takes Benjamin in without hesitation. This is the home that Benjamin will grow up in as he ages backwards. Every day his appearance grows younger and his health improves.

Early on in his life, Benjamin meets the love of his life Daisy (played by Elle Fanning and Madisen Beaty as a young girl and Cate Blanchett from her late teenage years on). She is the granddaughter of a resident at the nursing home where he lives. The two spend much of their younger years pining and missing each and every opportunity to be with each other. Through out Benjamin's life he goes on many adventures including getting a job on a tugboat with grizzled Captain named Mike (Jared Harris) and aiding the Allied Forces in World War II. Benjamin's story might seem unusual, but when looked at has something that we can all identify with.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the film on the list that I was most looking forward to watching again. The previous and only other time I had seen the film, I did not care for it in the least. After my second viewing I can honestly say that my feelings have changed, although not by much. I will say that David Fincher's vision for the film is absolutely incredible. The cinematography is very visually appealing. Fincher's usual film noir style lends wonderfully to this film, but that is pretty much where the good things end for this film. It must be said though that the film does look amazing.

The majority of my problem with this film lies in Eric Roth's screenplay. He should sue himself for plagiarism. For myself, this screenplay is far too similar to Roth's previous Academy Award Winning screenplay for Forrest Gump. In my description of the film, I tried to stay away from all similar themes to Gump, and even that was virtually impossible to do. I'll spare my usual rant at all of things the two films share, but it's safe to say that the only thing that they don't have in common is a football scholarship. Roth is indeed a talented screen writer with films like Munich, The Insider, and The Good Shepherd on his resume. Sadly for myself, this film's story and structure was far too similar to Forrest Gump for me to enjoy it at all.

Overall, I look at this film much the way I do with films like James Cameron's Avatar. Intentional or not, the stunning visuals distract from a recycled story. At least in the case of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Roth borrowed from his own work. Even though I particularly did not enjoy the film, I can still appreciate it's high points. Brad Pitt as Button gives a marathon performance, which did deserve it's numerous nominations. Also as previously stated, David Fincher gives us another visual benchmark on his already sterling resume. With a better screenplay, I know I would have absolutely loved this film. I would only recommend seeing this movie if you were say a technical arts student and needed inspiration for a project.

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