By Dave Campbell | January 21, 2009
Director: David Fincher
Writer(s): Eric Roth & Robin Swicord
Staring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Taraji Penda Henson, Jared Harris
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a loosely based take on the 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Daisy Fuller is on her deathbed with her daughter Caroline at her side at a New Orleans hospital while Hurricane Katrina approaches in August 2005. Daisy shares with Caroline the story of a blind clockmaker named Gateau, who was hired to build the clock for the New Orleans train station. After Gateau and his wife receive the news that his son has died on the battlefield, he continues his work on his clock. We come to find out at the unveiling that he designed to run backward in hopes that it will bring back the loved ones who have died in the war (WWI).
Daisy then asks Caroline to read from a diary that contains the photographs, postcards, and writing of a Benjamin Button. Caroline reads the story as it now transitions to Benjamin’s point of view.
On November 11, 1918, the people of New Orleans celebrate in the streets the end of WWI. We enter a house where a baby boy is being born with the appearance and physicality of a man of 86 years old, but the size of a normal baby. The mother of the baby dies after giving birth. The father, Thomas Button, franticly takes the baby from the house and then abandons him on the porch of a local nursing home. This is where we meet Queenie and Tizzy, an African-American couple who work at the nursing home and find the baby left on the steps. Queenie, herself unable to conceive, quickly decides to raise the baby as her very own even with Tizzy’s hesitation. She names the baby Benjamin. From there the story spans the events that Benjamin experiences as he physically grows younger while everyone around him grows older.
I first want to comment on how unearthly awesome the Contour (developed by former Apple Computer engineer Steve Perlman) camera system is. It was used to allow the actors faces to be recorded and digitally manipulated on the varying actors that played the different stages of life of the characters. The look and feel of the film captured the essence of the dates and environments of each time being represented.
This is an epic film with engagingly great performances (Pitt, Blanchett, Ormond, Henson, & Harris) from beginning to end, but I understand why Brad Pitt was not given a Golden Globe. Pitt’s acting chops were not pressed to extreme levels to warrant award winning recognition when compared to other nominees and even his own earlier works. That being said, he and the rest of the cast bring exactly the tone the characters call for and are on point throughout.
It must be noted that the Curious Case of Benjamin Button was written by Forrest Gump scribe Eric Roth. Even with the subject matter and storyline differences, Button and Gump share a common trail of themes and symbolic elements that follow the same formula. While thoroughly touching and enjoyable, I am unable to give this film a higher rating because of just how similar the two films are. Button was beautifully done, but the thematic plot parallels to Gump are just too obvious to ignore.
y/3 * 6 = 4y/8 * 4 Thus Button is equal to this decade’s version of Forrest Gump.