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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film that is about the life and death of a man who, being born an old man, ages backwards so as he gets older he looks younger. Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald of the same name it stars Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button with Cate Blanchett as Kate who is his love interest. I saw this film in the cinema as soon as it came out but I didn't realise it was a 3 hour long film and with no interval it didn't do any good to my legs.
So, being abandoned on the doorstep of an old people's home by his father, Benjamin is taken in by a kind black woman who, despite his appearance, takes pity on him and raises him as her own son. As Benjamin grows up among all the old folk at the home he realises that he is very different to all those around him growing younger and younger as each day passes.
At the beginning of the film we see a blind man building a clock and when it is presented to the public we see that the hands on the clock move backwards. This clock, which acts as a signifier, is shown in flashes throughout the film which is an interesting link to the unusual way that Benjamin grows up.
During this 3 hour film we go through Benjamin's life with him and all the mishaps and adventures he experiences. Much of the comic relief was in the first half of the film with Benjamin as a child with many of the characters he meets thinking he is just an old man who has never had a job, never tasted alcohol and never loved a woman which he soon experiences with the help of those around him. The tearjerkers definitely came towards the end of the film when, finally getting together with his childhood friend Kate, Benjamin worries that his relationship with her cannot last as he gets younger, turning from an old man into just a child.
This film was definitely worthy to win the Oscars for best visual effects and makeup. The way the aging was done for all the characters was amazing and watching this film you really felt as if you were watching the entire lives of these characters.
Moving on to the actors I'm not the biggest Brad Pitt fan but I really thought he gave the part of Benjamin justice and I can't think of a better actress as Cate Blanchett for the role as Kate.
To conclude, I really did enjoy this film. The only thing I can probably criticise is the length of the film and I felt that some of the scenes weren't all that necessary so it could have been made just a bit shorter. But throughout the film I laughed and I cried and I really felt for the characters, especially Benjamin on his emotional journey through life. An excellent film.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
FILM ONLY REVIEW
'The Curious case of Benjamin Button' is a film which caught my attention when it first came out though for one reason or another, I never got around to watching it. Flicking through the television channels this Bank Holiday weekend, I came across it and decided the wait was long enough, it was time to see what all the fuss was about!
So, what did I think of it?
TIME IS PASSING US BY
"Life can only be understood backward. It must be lived forward."
On the day that Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, an elderly Daisy Williams lays in a hospital bed waiting for her life to end. At her side, her adult daughter Caroline reads to her from a diary to which her mother has asked her to read aloud to her, a diary written by Daisy's life long friend Benjamin Button.
Through the means of the diary, Benjamin recounts his entire, extraordinary life, from the moment he was born, throughout his early childhood and into his adulthood, following him as he struggles through life, learns new trades and falls in love.
Sounds like the usual life story doesn't it? Though Benjamin Button's life was anything but ordinary. Born with an unusual condition that meant he aged backwards, he was given little chance of survival as severe arthritis overcame his tiny body among many other conditions associated with very old age, his adoptive mother, Queenie, flourishes him with all the love she can, yet Benjamin does not die. Instead, Benjamin starts to age backwards and begins to learn about life whilst living with his adoptive mother in a senior citizens care home. At first he does not realise he is different, though when he first meets Daisy, he begins to understand just how different he really is.
Benjamin and Daisy live their own lives apart for many years, though remain in contact until one day they find themselves thrown together once again, and their lives intermingle in spectacular ways.
I do admit, at first I found the film rather slow. There was a lot of 'storytelling' at the beginning, and not a lot of fluid action, though soon enough the story and characters became more compelling and I found myself really taken with all of the characters and their lives. Although very unusual a story, the way it was accomplished made it feel so real and it was very easy to believe that the events on screen actually happened.
This film was adapted from a short story F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1922, which I have not read. Apparently, both the story and the film are conceptually the same, though with some minor changes in order for the story to work as a film. For someone who has not read the story, like myself, the changes do not stand out at all, apart from in one place to which seemed wrong in the film. I deduced that this was created this way in order for film makers to make it more visually acceptable, and had this confirmed when I later looked it up online, yet it still did not sit completely right. As far as I can see, though, this way was probably the only way that film makers could get away with it. This particular set of scenes occurs right near to the end of the film which I will discuss a little further down this review.
One thought that crossed my mind numerous times during the film was how alike it seemed to the film 'Forest Gump'. Both films were written by Eric Roth so it is not a huge surprise that there are similarities, yet I was surprised at just how much reminded me of the earlier film. Such similarities include specific storylines within the main story of the films such as both main characters travelling an almost lonely path around the world/country, serving in the U.S. Military with the same uniform in a non-traditional way, witnessing deaths of friends and so forth. The entire story of both films dwells upon life's uncertainty over and over again, and also looks at fate versus coincidence in many scenes. The narrative voice within each scene is also very familiar, as the main character tells his own story in a drawling voice-over. There are too many story line similarities to mention, and even though the main frame of the story is different, if you did not enjoy 'Forest Gump' then you may not find this film entertaining either.
The storyline itself is quite a simple story line, though with a unique twist which makes it much more compelling to watch. Without the twist, I feel that it would be like watching any old film, with bland story lines. It is very easy to follow though there is a few times in which I felt a little confused. Most of my confusion was cleared up, though there were still some parts which, even at the end of the film, I was left wondering of its position and meaning within the film. It seems from my research online that these same parts leave questions for many viewers, though unlike some unexplained parts in films, this did not leave me feeling as though I had seen a bad film, nor was I disappointed. If anything, the questions left hanging in the air enhanced my enjoyment of the film and left me thinking it over for some time afterwards.
The settings are almost perfect and sit in sheer comparison to the characters within the story, highlighting their troubled lives with a mixture of grief and happiness. The world that these characters inhabit really help set the scene of both the story and the characters and enhance the viewing to no ends.
The film is rated PG-13 for some minor adult content. Some aspects I feel you may wish to be aware of are such scenes which include sexual moments. The most graphic parts are few and far between and are filmed really well so that it is left more to the imagination. You do see some naked flesh, though nothing cringe worthy in the slightest, and there is quite a lot of discussion within many scenes about sexual acts and the human body in general, though again, it fits in perfectly in the scenes and does not stand out as wrong by any means. There is also a fair amount of violent scenes in the film, although it is certainly not classed as any kind of horror or slasher movie! You see war time scenes with men being shot which do come across as quite graphic, though in the main, the violence is kept to a minimum. There is also an above average amount of profanity used in this film, and quite strong words used at that.
Another thing to be aware of that some may find very sensitive, is that the film focuses upon death and dying to an extreme. Whist this is performed perfectly with some great thought put into it, some may still find it disturbing and/or upsetting. I did not find myself in tears during this film as I usually do, and this is possibly due to the sensitivity of the way the scenes are performed. In saying this, though, the scenes and discussions are very emotional in other ways.
The ending is always a very important factor in a film in my opinion, as if the film is great yet the ending is a let-down, I always feel robbed and do not feel that it was worth my time watching it.
So how does the ending of this film compare?
As I have already mentioned above, the ending scenes did not sit quite right with me. The story ending was as to be expected in many ways, and in a lot of ways it felt complete and exciting with the right amount of different emotions within the scenes, though the way it was created seemed a little wrong to me, although as specified above, perhaps this was the easiest was to put the ending on to screen. Although a little disappointed in the execution of the ending, I also felt quite happy with it at the same time. It rounded up the main part of the film nicely, and left some questions hanging which, at first might seem a little frustrating, though I soon came to understand the meaning of the open ended film.
This film was directed by David Fincher, who has worked on may films starring Brad Pitt before, such as Fight Club and Seven. Other such films in his portfolio include great flicks such as Panic Room and Zodiac. The main writer, as already mentioned, was Eric Roth who bought in the same feel as his previous film of Forest Gump. I have seen many of the films that have been written and directed by these people and have always had a mixed reception. I am glad to say, though, that their work together on this film has stunned me, and I found the whole film quite enjoyable.
The cast list is a reasonably large list, though in reality, the main cast list is actually quite small. There are a number of well known names in the list which is possibly one of the reasons that many originally went to see it, and I am glad to say that they do not fail to bring something great to their parts.
The main cast list includes;
Cate Blanchett ... Daisy
Brad Pitt...Benjamin Button
Julia Ormond ... Caroline
Taraji P. Henson ... Queenie
Jason Flemyng ... Thomas Button
Elias Koteas ... Monsieur Gateau
Ed Metzger ... Teddy Roosevelt
Joeanna Sayler ... Caroline Button
Elle Fanning ... Daisy Age 7
Madisen Beaty ... Daisy Age 10
Chandler Canterbury ...Benjamin Age 8
Charles Henry Wyson ...Benjamin Age 6)
Spencer Daniels ... Benjamin Age 12
Peter Donald Badalamenti II ... Benjamin 1928-31
Robert Towers ...Benjamin 1932-34
Tom Everett ... Benjamin 1935-37
Katta Hules ... Caroline Age 12
Blanchett is spectacular as Daisy and provides the audience with a real sense of aging in her character. There were a few moments in which I found her bland, though this could have more to do with the character than the skills of the actor herself. The character of Daisy is also played by two younger actors in the characters childhood years, and in my opinion, it is really important to get the cast absolutely right so that the audience can believe that this is one person growing up. In my opinion, the casting directors got this spot on with Fanning and Beaty adding their own spark to the character, whilst keeping in line to how the character actually was.
As per usual, Pitt held the audiences attention every time he was on screen and literally breathed life in to the character of Benjamin Button. His relationship with Blanchett on screen was incredible and between the two of them, they really made this film. As you can see from the cast list above, many actors played other versions of Benjamin and all performed their parts extremely well, so well that you could really believe that these actors were Pitt's real counterparts!
Ormand had quite a small part within this film, though certainly not an insignificant one. Although she did not have much to go one in the scenes she was in, she made the most of them and managed to hold the story in these parts well. Hules, who played the younger version of the character, also did not have too much to go on, though I felt as though her role in the film shone out less than any other role. As the character was so sparse, though, she managed to get away with her role as the younger Caroline...just.
Henson was absolutely amazing in her role, with the energy and spark that helped keep the film and characters alive. Right from the word go, she brought a large sense of feeling and worth into her character and had a real stage presence that had you loving her character from the start.
Recently, Flemyng has become one of my favourite actors on television with his role in Primeval, and he does not fail to excite in this film. He brings in so much emotion in every miniscule scene he is in, showing that he is a diverse actor and really bringing life to his character. Sayler, unfortunately, did not have time to shine in her role, though I have no real negative comments about her (though she was on screen all of five minutes!).
Koteas performed his tiny role with great presence and I found myself wishing that his role had of been larger as he really shone through in his character and set the scene beautifully for the rest of the cast. Metzger, on the other hand, was barely memorable in his role and I felt the complete opposite with him that I did with Koteas!
There are also many other roles in the film, though too many to mention fully. Most are extra or bitty parts and do not really stand out, though those who play the elderly at the home where Benjamin lives all stand out for different reasons, and all seemed to be perfect choices for their roles. None stood out more than any others, though, so no awards will be given for these actors, I am sure, though each and every one of them did enhance the backgrounds of each scene and made viewing entertaining and exciting just by appearing there.
So what was my overall opinion of the cast?
I love the cast of this film! With only a few minor discrepancies, I found that each part seemed almost made for the actor playing the role. Although the film and story itself was great, I believe that it was mainly the cast who breathed life into the film and made it what it was.
It was a slow beginning, and it took me a little while to actually get into the film, though once I did I found myself compelled to continue watching it. The story line was an average storyline with some very familiar ways of telling it, though the twist made it exciting and different. The cast were, in the main, fantastic, and I would certainly recommend giving this film a try.
On buying the DVD, though, I am not sure. I did love the film though I am not sure whether I would watch it over and over again. If you are interested in purchasing the film, you can pick it up on Amazon for as little as £2.00, or £3.14 on blue ray which is a very acceptable price!
Runtime: 166 min
Based on an F Scott Fitzgerald Short Story this is a fantasy tale about an old man, Benjamin (Brad Pitt), who is born old, he is discarded as a baby and brought up in an old peoples home, however while everyone else ages, he gets younger.
The story is directed by the rather brilliant David Fincher of Fight Club and The Social Network. The most striking thing about this film, is how beautifully it is shot. Set in New Orleans around the time of Hurricane Katrina we meet a dying woman, Daisy Williams (Cate Blanchett) who relays the story of Benjamin Button to her daughter (Julia Ormond).
The film is mostly told in flashback from Benjamin's birth in 1920's New Orleans onwards and it is beautiful, the places and sets look fantastic, the black and white shots of people's memories are stunningly shot and the costumes and looks are just perfect.
The story itself is somewhat twee, scripted by the writer of Forrest Gump, it wants to stir emotion, and does so in opportune moments, but it sadly lacks something to really grab the viewer.
For me, the issue I had with the film was I couldn't put aside my curiosity over how somebody who was getting younger could live, how they could watch all their loved ones die, and how they could appreciate their experiences, also I failed to really take in how, Benjamin could accept love for another person as he watched them age and he got younger, how his lover could still have memories of love and sex for somebody who was devolving into a child, these images made me very uncomfortable and became the defining parts of the story for me, which is disappointing.
Thinking about it, this is a good story, but the issues I've mentioned made it somewhat less emotive than it could have been, although the final image is beautifully thought out and requires concentration at the start of the film.
The best parts of the film are watching the elderly Button learn about life with a childlike enthusiasm and a pensioner's body, as he learns about life, work and love, he seizes each day enthusiastically.
The story has lots of holes in it, such as how a woman could give birth to a baby that within 4 years becomes 5'8 tall, but you have to put belief on hold.
The acting is very good, stand out performances for me are Pitt as Button, Taraji P. Henson as Queenie and Tilda Swinton as the wife of a British diplomat, Pitt in particular carries off the role of narrator and star with ease, it is clearly him at all ages and the use of effects is clever, but I always admire the way he wants to be the role he plays and puts himself into the performance. Henson is infectious as the loving Queenie, a true mother in every sense, while Swinton offers a wonderful performance of control and restraint as an enamoured spouse.
Cate Blanchett grows into her role as Button's lover 'Daisy' at first she is annoying and immature, but as Benjamin grows younger she develops into a caring and thoughtful person. In this respect the moment the lovers meet as equal ages is a key point in the film at all other times they are not equal in some respect, physicality or maturity, it is purely at this moment that their love makes sense, for the rest of the film for me, I had feelings in the back of my head that some of the feelings of each character were a bit creepy, but this is more to do with societal attitudes than anything wrong in the story.
I took the main films concept to be a couples attempts to understand their feelings over a lifetime of missed opportunities and social discrepancy, however the realities of the tale, just made two thirds of it much too unbelievable for me to fully lose myself in it, as I had hoped to.
The film covers sixty years in the history of America and is an elegant and at times enchanting story of love, life and death, at other times it feels as though the story is a eulogy to all those loved and lost in our life's. As beautiful as this is, and at times some of the shots are breath-taking, the film as a whole just lacks something extra to make it a true classic.
The film is beautifully shot and told, it is elegant and unrushed and the actors make the most of their roles, but for some reason I found the story overlong and a tad forced in moments, yes Blanchett and Pitt are attractive leads, yes the story is quirky and epic in many senses, but it feels like a brilliantly thought out short story that has been fleshed out and this definitely weakens the narrative a lot.
Brad Pitt ... Benjamin Button
Tilda Swinton ... Elizabeth Abbott
Faune A. Chambers...Dorothy Baker
Elias Koteas...Monsieur Gateau
Donna DuPlantier...Blanche Devereux
Jacob Tolano..Martin Gateau
Ed Metzger...Teddy Roosevelt
David Jensen...Doctor at Benjamin's Birth
Joeanna Sayler...Caroline Button
Taraji P. Henson...Queenie
Fiona Hale...Mrs. Hollister
The DVD is available for £2.99 on Amazon and Play.com, "The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button" is a four part/trimester story about the making of the film, from its original concept to its making. The director is passionate about his story and even makes dry witty comments about Cate Blanchett's annoying, difficult to hear vocal on her deathbed, this is an interesting, insightful documentary that would be worth buying in its own right with interviews with all the lead actors and details of how the shots were shot and the music and story compiled, with references to the historic moments and acts enveloped into the story. This is definitely an extra I would recommend to anyone and makes this dvd tremendous value at £2.99.
Best Bit: The tender moments between Queeny and her 'baby'
Most Annoying Bit: Needing Subtitles to understand a lot of Cate Blanchett's elderly characters words.
Best Quote: Your life is defined by its opportunities... even the ones you miss.
I Hope I'm Young Before I Die
Benjamin Button's mother dies giving birth to him, when his father sees him he goes mad and abandons him at a shelter for the elderly. Benjamin has a rate medical condition that means he ages backwards. Although he is baby size his body is old.
This is the story of his life from beginning to end, as read from Button's diary by daughter of his lifelong friend Daisy who lies on her death bead in a New Orleans hospital as hurricane Katrina approaches in 2005.
I am a fan of David Fincher's work, even Alien 3 that most seemed to dislike. He has made some cult classics, especially Seven and Fight Club. His later films have been good, but not quite upto the level of his earlier films, which started with Panic Room. This is the third collaboration of Bradd Pitt and David Fincher, and though it's not quite in the same league as DeNiro and Scorsese it's none the less produced some fine films. The film is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I've never read the story but I've read online they have only used the basic idea of a man being born old, the rest has been made up by the filmmakers.
It's interesting to know that the screenplay was written by Eric Roth who also wrote the screenplay for Forest Gump, there are certainly parallels
that can be drawn with the film.
Brad Pitt plays the title character, and a great job he does of it too, especially the younger (older looking) Button, he manages to get the enthusiasm of a child with the infirmity of a man in his 80's. Pitt narrates throughout the entire film. Fans of Pitt wanting Eye Candy may be a little disappointed as he's only current age Pitt for a short amount of time.
Cate Blanchett co stats as Daisey, she is a kind of sullen character, a bit tragic. Her performance is good but a bit unmemorable. Somehow they
don't seem to have gone into as much effort in changing her age over time, Button seems to be getting younger when Daisey doesn't seem to age at all at times.
Jason Flemyng seems a strange choice as Button's father Thomas, I remembered him from Lock Stock, but he turns out the be an inspired choice, as is Taraji P. Henson as Queenie, who take Button in and raises him, she is prefect creating lots of emotion. All other minor characters are very well done too.
The special effect and especially the make up are very good. Fincher is known for his good blending of special effects with live action that
make it quite hard to spot, as technology has improved this is even more so. I'm not sure how much was CGI and how much makeup but that goes to show how well it's done. This is of course more impressive at the start of the film with the older button. It's very impressive how they make Pitt look like a very old man.
Summing up, it's not a film for everyone, you do need some patience but you will be rewarded. The film is long at three hours and forty minutes,
I was expecting to get bored or lose interest, I'm happy to report this did not happen.It's not a film I an see me watching over and over, so I won't be rushing out to get a copy on DVD. It is a sentimental story, but it's not without humour and is not just a tear jerker.
Main Cast List
Brad Pitt - Benjamin Button
Cate Blanchett - Daisy
Jason Flemyng - Thomas Button
Taraji P. Henson - Queenie
Jared Harris - Captain Mike
Directed By : David Fincher
Running Time : 166 Mins.
Certificate : 12A
In 1918, following the end of the Great War, a baby is born under unusual circumstances. The baby appears with all the characteristics of a man in his 80's. The baby's Mother dies during child birth and his grief stricken Father runs off with the baby, eventually leaving him on the steps of a retirement home. Queenie, the founder of the home, takes the child in and despite his differences to other children, loves him as if he was her own - she names him Benjamin.
As Benjamin grows he begins to look and feel younger. Benjamin tries hard to live a normal life, when he returns home in his early 20's, he meets an old friend he knew since he was a child. The two feel strongly about each other, but is Benjamin capable of living a normal life and holding down a normal relationship, or is he destined to be alone for eternity?
This is a film that I was highly sceptical about watching for a very long time, not only due to the long running time, which at 165 minutes is substantial enough to put even the most eager of viewers off watching this. I had always envisioned this sort of film being very slow, couple that with the fact that films set decades ago don't really appeal to me, it wasn't look good for Benjamin Button and myself. However, after hearing all the wonderful praise it received upon release, it became impossible to ignore and I finally gave into curiosity of the case of Benjamin Button.
I've always considered Brad Pitt to be a superb actor, however, his looks occasionally don't bode well for him. He's been written off as a mere poster boy on numerous occasions, yet he always comes back fighting, sometimes literally in the likes of Fight Club, Se7en, Sleepers and Interview With A Vampire. Brad Pitt has proven time and time again that he's more than just a pretty face and when The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button came along, it must have seemed like a perfect film in which to silence his critics once and for all. Brad Pitt is unrecognisable for an least an hour of the film, but given the length of this film he does manage to fill the screen for an awfully long time as we witness him age backwards, ending up look about 10 years younger than he actually his (picture him in his Fight Club days). Pitt won numerous awards for his portrayal of Button - all deserved? Regrettable I have to say no. Pitt plays the role admirably subtly, evoking very little emotion throughout the entire film. Unfortunately Button's character seems cold for a large portion of the movie which makes it difficult for audiences to connect with him and being the main character is a big downfall. It would have been nice to see some raw emotion from Pitt later on in the film in scenes with Daisy. Button is portrayed as a very gentle man, unfortunately we don't really get to see much of a compassionate side to his character. There are small snippets of compassion from Button towards Queenie and Daisy but unfortunately it's just not enough to rescue his character.
On the length side, my reservations were completely unfounded. The time simply flew by and it seemed like it was an hour less than it actually was. The film didn't slow down for a minute as everything that happens in the film happens for a reason and I can't think of one scene that wasn't vital to the story. It may take about 15 minutes to really get into the story but once it captures you, you're powerless to resist and you'll remain captivated for the entire running time. Narration takes place for a large chunk of the story and is very reminiscent of the style of the romantic drama The Notebook in the way it interchanges from present day to Benjamin's past. There are two stories to tell with two narrators. One is of course Benjamin, the other being Daisy who is reading from a diary that Benjamin wrote of his life, she also adds in her own feeling to events which give you another aspect in which to become involved. The film, although largely centred around Benjamin doesn't forget its secondary characters; namely Daisy but also Queenie who plays a small yet memorable part. Queenie has a story of her own to be told through Benjamin's diary which is very absorbing and intriguing, the only problem is that Queenie isn't given enough screen time because she lit up the screen everytime we witness her love and acceptance of Benjamin. Taraji P. Henson who plays Queenie did a superb job and stole every scene she was in.
Blanchett is on form once again playing Daisy. It's through her that we feel all the emotions that you would if you were faced with such adversity and she was superb throughout. Her ageing felt very genuine as she gradually aged whilst Benjamin continued to get younger. I feel that Blanchett Blossoms as the film progresses and towards the end I feel that she peaks in some extremely emotional scenes. Tilda Swinton makes a brief appearance but leaves a lasting impression on the movie. She had excellent chemistry with Pitt, but I felt that their relationship somewhat undermined the significance of Benjamin's and Daisy's. Nevertheless she played her part expertly and her presence is echoed throughout the film.
Despite an overall well developed plot there were some aspects which I found were a little underdeveloped, for instance certain relationships that were never explained well enough or given a suitable ending, strong characters were left in the background in favour of Pitt and Blanchett. The scenes which took place at the hospital were very emotional, yet ended with a somewhat anti-climax and overall it seemed that some aspects of the story were purposely left open to keep the audience guessing. I've never been a fan of this tactic as I think everything should be explained in the story otherwise what's the point in seeing it?
Fortunately these are little indiscretions and make very little difference to the effect and overall enjoyment that the film encompasses. Despite its sombre and understated approach to the storyline it manages to keep you enthralled for the entirety of the 3 hours which is no mean feat. The film isn't perfect but the positives far outweigh the negatives and this is by far one of the most absorbing, yet subtle films I've seen in a long time.
The DVD is available from Amazon for £4.99.
I see this movie has had a series of good reviews, however, I am about to blow that streak and unfortunately for those who did enjoy this, say how much I disliked it! Sorry Benjamin Button, but the only curious thing about this movie is why it takes you so long to do and say so little. I know, I know, there's the youth is wasted on the young story-line and the romance and the sorely learnt mistakes and blah blah blah but ultimately, you are watching nearly three hours of some guy in a retirement home and I feel like I am getting older while he is getting younger. He may go on to live an adventurous life, but he does it so plainly and indifferently that I can't stand how boring this movie is. I am even writing this review WHILE watching this movie since it is SO long and I need to distract myself with something, while I plough through the hours of monotonous southern accents and sepia scenery... yamn. In addition, I have had time to make a sandwich AND bowl of cereal during this film and it's still going on!
Ok, enough ranting, the movie is about a baby, who is later named 'Benjamin' and then even later given the last name 'Button' (almost in an effort to drag out every detail) and this baby is old and not the cutest. So his dad has enough and drops him off on a door step of a young black couple who raise him and it appears he gets younger as everyone else gets older. He falls in love with this girl who used to visit her nan in the retirement home he so excitedly (not) grows up in. A little perverted, since he appears 90 and she is like 7... awkward... I wish I could go into more detail and say what else happens and whilst you may think I am restraining from ruining the story for you, unfortunately, I am not. The truth is, nothing else happens.
I had wanted to see this film for some time as it looked very interesting, so I added it to my DVD rental basket and was pleased when it came through the post for me last week. I had recently read a review on Dooyoo that said an afternoon was really needed for this film and it was quite long. However, I didn't get round to sitting down until 8pm to watch it but was prepared for a film which lasts around 2 and a half hours! Although I watched the DVD, this is a film only review.
The film begins by showing an elderly woman on her death bed, we learn her name is Daisy and she is asking her daughter to read through some sort of diary one last time before she dies. We are then flipped into a time probably 80 years ago where a young woman is giving birth, her husband rushes in and is told things are not looking good and his wife will probably die. Panicking, he rushes to her side and is then handed the son that she has given him. He is horrified, the baby looks like an old man. He is disgusted, probably half because his wife is going to die but also the look of the baby worries him, he also knows he cannot bring a child up alone. He goes out and leaves the baby on an old persons home doorstep with what little money he has.
Queenie, who runs the home finds him and insists that she raises him as her own. As Benjamin grows up, he begins to look younger. He is like a child trapped in a old persons body and instead of aging, he gets younger. We see him begin to walk again and his wrinkles decrease. Whilst he is growing up at the home, we are introduced to Daisy whose grandmother lives at the home. We can see immediately than Benjamin and Daisy are very close but her grandmother disapproves of their friendship as in her eyes, Benjamin is an old man.
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this film, but I was really keen to see it as it sounded interesting and the plot intrigued me. For the first half hour or so I really wasn't sure about the plot but then I really got into the story and was desperate to see how Benjamin lived his life and how he overcame obstacles that he encountered. I felt that the plot flowed well and after the first half an hour it really picked up speed.
Brad Pitt played Benjamin for the majority of the film, but obviously due to the obstacle of following Benjamin through his entire life there are a number of other actors involved including Tom Everett. The actors all played the character extremely well and they all merged into one another very well keeping the character consistent throughout.
The acting in the film was done very well. With big names such as Brad Pitt, I did worry that I might liken Benjamins character to other roles he had played however I'm happy to say I didn't and I saw Benjamin as a completely new character. The characters all had superb chemistry and you could see that a lot of thought and effort was put into making the film. The setting of the film was really good, I enjoyed watching his hometown change over time and thought it was interesting to see.
There were never really any big climaxes in the film and instead we just followed Benjamin through his life, however I thought that the film was still interesting and it was good to see someone live their life backwards.
I enjoyed the film and thought it was the perfect length to fit everything in. After the first half hour, the film really picked up and there was never a dull moment. The ending told me everything I wanted to know but it was not dragged out meaning therefore that I was not willing it to end.
I recommend this film as I thought it was made very well and was an interesting watch. I think everyone would enjoy this film as it is a drama rather than a rom-com or chick flick.
The film was released in 2008.
It stars Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt and Julia Ormond.
It is rated a 12 which is because of references to sex and smoking.
It runs for 166 minutes.
Good film, well worth a watch.
Film only review
When Benjamin Button is born he is 85 years old, his birth mother dies after the labour and his father unable to cope with the loss of his wife and what he considers to be a monster of a baby leaves the newborn on the steps of an old people's home with $18 tucked into the babies' blanket.
Queenie, a worker in the home discovers the baby and figuring the poor child has not long to live decides to take him in and pass him off as the son of her sister who is unable to deal with the child's illness. The residents of the home are thrilled with the new arrival and rally around, welcoming the child to their home and all help with looking after him.
As time passes it is clear to Queenie that the child is far from death and grows larger and although has the appearance of an old man has the attitude and outlook of that of a child. Wheelchair bound and frail Benjamin fits in well with the other residents but whilst they are all growing older Benjamin is getting younger every day.
Soon Benjamin is able to walk with sticks then over time without any assistance and one day is introduced to the granddaughter of one of the residents, Daisy. Immediately drawn to her because she is another child, the two of them get on well and Benjamin looks forward to the frequent visits that Daisy makes to her grandmother, and over time the pair forge a firm friendship.
Getting younger and fitter by the day Benjamin wants to experience life outside the old people's home and ventures into the world getting a taste of what is out there. He meets new people, gets a job, has his first sexual encounter and enjoys his first drink. We follow Benjamin through his life in reverse and watch him grow younger as the people around him grow older and die.
The running theme throughout the film is that of his relationship with Daisy and how the two of them start off as childhood friend and how their friendship matures over time. The story is told from the perspective of Benjamin through the diary he kept and Daisy now an old woman lying in a hospital bed is being read to by her daughter in what are probably her final hours.
At 2 ½ hours long the story is given plenty of time to develop and the characters are fully developed. You get to really know Benjamin and Daisy and their story is both romantic and touching, personally I thought that the strength of the film was that the characters were given enough time for us to understand them and you really do buy into their story.
Brad Pitt reminds me of Johnny Depp in a lot of ways, he does play quirky and 'different' characters well and this case is no exception. He gives an outstanding performance in this film and you do sympathise with his condition and feel for him when people around him die.
The character and story is very reminiscent of Forrest Gump though and this seems to be a common comparison that other people have commented on, the setting of the film being the deep south; Louisiana and the accent that Pitt has are very 'Forrestlike' and the feel of the film does have elements that seem to have been lifted from the film.
Cate Blanchett is reliable as ever and plays the grown up version of Daisy with style, she plays her part effortlessly and she is believable. The makeup effects that age her when she is lying in her hospital bed as an old lady are extremely well done and look genuine rather than prosthetics.
On the subject of makeup effects, the film did win the Oscar for best achievement in makeup and this was well deserved. Both Pitt and Blanchett when made up to be elderly are exceptionally authentic looking and even the 20 something looking Pitt looks freakily like he did when he was in his twenties even though his skin did look a little too smooth and line free.
Surprisingly, despite being nominated in all the major categories for the Oscars the film only ended up winning 3 for makeup, art direction and visual effects. I can't help but think that this is because the film tried *too* hard to chase awards, maybe it's just me being cynical but I felt that as the film reminded me of Forrest Gump and umpteen other major films that have swept the boards at the Oscars that this film tried to pinch elements from other films and wrapped them up into one.
That was my major let down overall with this film, I did enjoy it; the acting was superb, the effects excellent and the plot well developed but it just didn't go anywhere. You know from the start that ultimately Button is going to get so young that any relationships cannot possibly work longterm, being born at 85 he has a defined number of years available to him (assuming a fatal accident doesn't end his life prematurely- which being a Hollywood film you know it won't) so it's the middle years of his life that any 'action' can take place in (as he is too old when first born, too young as the years go on etc) and I can't help but feel that this is where the film is too contrived.
Despite that I did get lost in the story and the 2 ½ hours passed by quite nicely, I was glad for it to end though and can't say I would watch the film again given the opportunity. I was sent this film as part of my subscription package from LoveFilm but is available to buy new from Amazon for just under a fiver.
Personally I think its a film I would recommend maybe for a wet and cold Sunday afternoon where you can devote the time needed to get into the story and overall would give it 3/5 Dooyoo stars for all the reasons I have mentioned. An award-chasing film that tries, but maybe a little bit too hard.
Thanks for reading my review.
This film is about the life of Benjamin Button who was born old and died young. It stars Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button and Cate Blanchett as Daisy, the love of his life.
Benjamin Button's mother died in childbirth and he was left on the steps of an old people's home by his father who thought he looked like a monster. Queenie, who worked at the old people's home found him and raised him as her own. This story charts Benjamin's life as he was growing up but he was a frail old man as a child who slowly became younger as he grew older. It charts his milestone achievements of having his first drink, meeting his father, falling in love and earning a living.
Cate Blanchett plays Daisy who was the grand daughter of a resident who lived at the old people's home and they struck up a friendship which lasted throughout the years. She became a dancer and lived a frivolous life in New York and later Paris but things changed for her when she was involved in an accident which ended her dancing career.
After a period of silence Daisy comes back to Benjamin and they embark on a relationship which lasts several years and includes the birth of their daughter.
This film is about acceptance and the yearning of a love lost and then found but only to be lost again as both characters realise they cannot be together.
This film is almost three hours long and it progresses at a slow steady pace. It was engaging and I did not mind that the film was so long but the film sort of never picked up and towards the end I found it a bit tedious. It really was just a film about someone's life and whilst I appreciate life can be dull I expected this to be a bit more interesting and maybe have a few more life changing events.
I understand that the aging process was all done via technology so Brad Pitt never had to wear any prothetics to look old. This kind of ruined the appeal somehow as you think as actors, they would be prepared to do all they could for their role. It was nice seeing how handsome Brad Pitt became as he got older though :)
This film is worth watching if you have three hours to spare but it is not a film which I will be rushing to see again.
Review of film only:
I say surprise not because I think this film deserved the major nominations it received, but because it seems be exactly the sort of film that normally gets the Hollywood gongs. However, more on that later.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a 2009 drama/fantasy feature film starring Brad Pitt in the titular role and co-starring Cate Blanchett as Daisy. It tells the story of a dying woman in a New Orleans hospital who insists that her daughter reads to her the complete diary of a one Benjamin Button. This happens as reports come in of a powerful hurricane that is on its way to New Orleans. Button's birth occurred on the day the First World War finished and corresponded with the unveiling of a clock made for the New Orleans railway station. The clock was made by a blind man whose son was killed during the war. He intentionally made the clock to run backwards in hope that this could somehow turn the time back and bring his son back. It fails to do this, but in what seems to be a weird coincidence Benjamin Button is born with all the physical characteristics of a man aged 85. As the story progresses we discover that Button is aging backwards and he met dying woman when they were children - or at least when he was a child with an old man's body. They become the love of each other's lives, but different events and choices lead them down different paths throughout their lives.
As far as loose adaptations go, the motion picture "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" resembles its 1922 original short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald in only three ways. It has the same title, the main protagonist bears the same name and both are about a man who ages backwards. That's about it. However, before we launch into tirades about spoiling art and ruining an author's vision, I think there should be some understanding of the "production hell" this film has been through ever since the film rights were first acquired by Ray Stark in the 1980s. During the time Stark held rights, which he did until his death in 2004; Frank Oz, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard all made efforts to get the story onto the big screen without success.
The simple yet fantastical premise is something that you can imagine the likes of Oz, Spielberg and Howard being drawn towards. In fact, I am surprised surrealists like David Lynch and Terry Gilliam didn't give it a shot. However, like most fairytales - which is essentially what the story is - realizing for a full length film is a difficult task. For example, if you have read the original Pinocchio and then watched its various onscreen adaptations you will see the obvious problems. Fitzgerald had Benjamin Button being born as an old man with a white beard and a mind to match. His mind with his body then matured backwards. It was complete magical reality, which can be pretty hard to do unless you do decide to go down the surrealist route as Neil Jordan did with Angela Carter's work. Unfortunately this not only marginalizes a film for mainstream audiences, but often sacrifices empathetic characterization for symbolism. With something that is so focused on an individual's life it would seem that the potential for a bigger and perhaps even richer story can be lost if this route is pursued.
Therefore, I feel the resulting decisions made by screenwriters Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, and director, David Fincher is justifiable. The resulting film contains a different type of pathos than the Fitzgerald story, producing far more sympathetic characters and a slightly more complex story. Whereas you can feel a certain degree of resentment for the character of Benjamin's son in the short story, there is no antagonist whatsoever in the film (incidentally Benjamin doesn't have a son in the film). It is technically not a tragedy, but is still a melancholy tale about life's inevitabilities told with a distinctive softness. The film deals with the conscious decisions we make that shape our lives, the decisions others make and matters that are completely out of our control. The story is utterly predictable with any intended twists being pretty easy to see coming and yet this doesn't really detract a lot from the enjoyment of the film. This is perhaps due to the easy pace of the whole picture and the strong performances put in by both Pitt and Blanchett. This is not a film that gives you absolutes about life, but leaves you with experiences that you can form your own opinion on. It is an original piece that doesn't challenge you so much as it gently leads you by the hand through the peculiarities of life.
The film was slated to make a clean sweep both at the Oscars and the box office, but fell short in both instances. It lost out on the larger awards, but deservedly got the award for best visual effects. Brad Pitt is convincingly shown in many of the stages of Button's life, only being replaced at the very beginning of his life and towards the end. This isn't the most remarkable of films and in some ways it fulfils the sickening Oscar performance criteria that "A Beautiful Mind", "Forrest Gump" et al met. However, it is much more memorable and deserving than the likes of "Titanic" and "Gladiator".
The Curious Case of BEnjamin Button is a film starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and is a film about a man Benjamin who lives his life in reverse, he is born old and grows young. The film is very loosely based on F.Scott Fitzgeralds novella and garnered 13 oscar nominations, it is directed by David Fincher.
The story of Benjamin is all wrapped around a clock, the film begins at the end of the first world war where a clock maker is employed to build a clock for the train station when the clock is unfurled it is found to only tick backwards, the clock maker explains that he wants to bring back those who cannot. On the stroke of the armistice, a boy is born but he appears as an old man and is rejected by his father who dumps him at the local orphanage.
Benjamin as he's called grows up looking like an old man in the company of other old people, he sits on the veranda and listens to the old men grumble, however, he is getting slowly younger as they become slowly older. Through this slow metamorphosis from old to young we are exposed to the history of the twentieth century, yet though the events are inspiring the film is oddly one paced and that pace is pedantic at best. Strange for a director who brought us Fight Club and Se7en, this film rather plods than explodes.
The film is the journely of Benjamins life played by Brad Pitt, as he gets older he gets younger, yet along the way he meets the great love of his life Daisy (Cate Blanchett) who gets older as she gets errr older. The two first meet when Benjamin looks like a seventy year old and daisy is seven, Daisy is the granddaughter of the person who runs the old people's home. They meet when Daisy is 21 but its only when Daisy breaks her leg and meets Benjamin when the pair are in their late thirties/early forties that they become lovers. You have to laud the prosthetics for this film, Brad Pitt spends the first half clad in plastic and looks like an old withered man, as Daisy gets older she is slowly transformed from a beautiful women into a handsome older women till finally an infirm old lady.
The screenplay is a little pained and a bit tepid, its written by Eric Roth who brought us Forrest Gump and has the same rather overblown need to fill the air with an overly long film. The director sometimes breaks away from this rather staid screenplay and brings us real moments of cinematography particularly the slow motion scene showing the horror of war in the trenches. The shot is again backwards and we see soldiers rising from the battlefields even though the viewer knows that moments later the soldier will be killed by shell or bullet. This backwards scene seeps into the clock opening and helps to explin the strange approach of the clockmaker.
The film is after all the attempts of the writer to make the film unwatchable just about acceptable for the viewer. The slowness of the film is its main problem but the performances of Brad and Kate light up the screen, they bring life to Benjamin and Daisy and though the screenplay gives them little to work with they maange to engage the viewer. This film works well when the director is given freedom, its a shame that this freedom wasn't allowed for longer, its main problem is the length at nearly 3 hours its just too long and a decent edit would have helped.
After watching the film, you feel that this is a film about an interesting story rather than a film telling an interesting story. In the end you leave wishing for more from less, in delivers less than the director wanted and leaves the viewer disappointed rather than uplifted.
I read the short story of this a few years ago and it's brilliant. It's usually the case where you read the story first then you are dissapointed in the film but this isn't the case with this.
It's sticks to the origional plot well and although missing out on a few important things and being set a little later it does a good job of telling the sad tale of Benjamin Button.
Without giving anything away the main story in this is that a baby is born old and grows young. Straight away it's hard to imagine how that would work and honestly the beggining was told better in the story than in the film but that's usually the way!
So the story is about Benjamin (Pitt) growing younger and the troubles and experiences he has along the way.
It's a shame in my opinion that the film is set a little later than the film as it misses out Benjamin going to the first world war, the occurance of the second world war in the short story is a funny yet tragic moment.
Overall though they did a good job of telling the story and I'd recomend watching the film before reading the short story, but for those who haven't read the short story and have seen the film you should go and read it. You can probably find it on Google somewhere as I'm sure it's in the public domain.
Worth a watch anyway and shows the versatility Pitt has which he often doesn't get credited for.
It is 1918 and the place is New Orleans. A husband is rushing home to is wife who has just given birth to a baby boy but the happiness is very short lived as the woman dies. The baby is not normal as he has the ailments of an 80 year old and has not been given long to live. The Father sees the baby as a monster and leaves him on the doorstep of the nursing home.
Luckily the baby is taken in and named Benjamin and he is given all the love and care he needs as he is believed to only have a short life span. Benjamin soon defies the Doctors as he sees his 7th Birthday and seems to be making good progress, he learns to walk and starts to have fun. Being surrounded by old people is a challenge for Ben and he longs to be like other children. Things change for Benjamin when a young girl names Daisy comes to visit her Grandmother. Daisy and Benjamin strike up a great friendship and as time goes on she notices how well Benjamin is doing and how much his body will allow hi to do.
Benjamin soon discovers that there is a life outside of the nursing home and sets off on his adventure promising Daisy that he will send her a postcard from every place that he visits. Will Benjamin have his adventure and just how much younger will his body get and will Daisy ever believe that he is aging the wrong way?
I really was very curious about this film as I had read and heard a lot about it. I have to say that after watching it, it was so much better than I was expecting it to be. The storyline is based on a novel by F Scott Fitzgerald but as I have not read this I am unable to make any comparisons to how well or badly it has been adapted. I did find the storyline was very different to anything which I had seen before and I think this is what made it so much more enjoyable. I also found the as I was unable to predict what was going to happen to Benjamin during the middle section of the film I was eager to watch and find out.
Brad Pitt took the role of Benjamin and I found him to be excellent. I did find he was so much better in the second half of the film when he was a middle aged man as he did not have any makeup or special effects on his face and this really did make for good viewing. I did find the effects and make up which was used to make an old Benjamin was extremely good and did look so realistic. I found him to portray the part of an old man trapped in the small body to be very good and at times was quite moving.
Cate Blanchett played the role of his long term friend Daisy and I think that there was a lovely chemistry between the two. I liked how the young actress befriended Benjamin and I did actually prefer the young girl to the grown up Daisy as she was quite up herself at times. She did mellow and change after the second half of the film and she did come across as a much nicer and less selfish person.
There were a lot of supporting actors and actresses in the film and I found them all to be very good and each and every one bought something different to the story. The one surprise actor for both me and hubby was Jason Flemyng who took the role of Benjamin's biological father. He was a surprise actors as I had only ever seen him in primeval and I though he did a great job and looked realistic when he was made up to be an old man.
The music throughout the film was very good and enjoyable I found it did help with the emotions of the film which were at times very heart tugging. I will admit that despite knowing the outcome for the last 20 or so minutes of the film I still managed to shed a few tears when it actually finished. The effects were very good and a lot of attention to detail had been given. The make up and costumes was all in keeping with the years in which the film was set and I did like how we could easily work out how far the film had moved forward by the fashions and sets for the film.
The DVD which we have does have a bonus feature which is a commentary from Director David Fincher but I have not watched this so am unable to make comment on it.
The running time of this film is 158 minutes and before watching I did think that it was going to be way too long and I though I would never manage to watch the whole thing in one sitting but I have to say that once I had gotten into the story then I was glued to it and lost track of the time. The certificate is a 12 and I do agree with this as there is some strong infrequent language and moderate violence.
Hubby bought me this DVD as he knew it was one I really wanted to watch and he paid £7 from Tesco which I felt to be a good price as it was well over £10 a few weeks ago.
Overall I do have to recommend this film as it has such a different storyline and some excellent acting, just don't let the length put you off.
Had heard this film was good, but didn't know anything more than "its about someone who gets younger instead of older". The films major "stars" are Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett (who oddly enough were both in Babel which I watched last week, not sure why its odd actually!).
The tale goes that a baby is born, it's mother dies in child birth and the baby is abandoned because it looks like a monster. The only way to describe what the baby looks like is a mandrake from Harry Potter if you've ever seen it. Seriously.Ugly. Turns out that the "baby" has a very rare condition which sees it being like aged 1 and really old, no hair, liver spots all the way through to being about 70 years old and having the body of a baby. It's not as weird as it sounds and the film has actually been done beautifully.
Anyway Pitt and Blanchett are drawn together, and the film shows a brief period in their life of happiness when they are of similar age and shows how hard it is when one is getting older and one is getting younger. The film was really heart warming though and was done very sensitively. It makes you really think about life and death and what you have got, and made me think that you should just cherish each day. It is actually quite a sad and frustrating film at some points and a film that can force you into having emotion is a good one in my opinion.
The film itself is 2 hours 40 mins long which I pulled at face at at the start but actually it keeps you that entertained that I didn't really even give a second thought to the length when I watched it. Pitt was a good actor for a change, I'm not usually that fussed on him and Blanchett was fairly decent, MUCH better than they were in Babel and you could actually see some chemistry between them here. Jolie better watch out! ;)
There are few actions scenes, very few gory scenes, very few sex scenes, just a plain good 'ol fashioned story. It felt a little like Forrest Gump at times, that sort of story telling.
The ageing effects of both main characters were absolutely brilliant, sometimes so very subtle but very very clever.
Overall I would definitely buy this film, we rented it but I can imagine I would like to see this again. Buy it!
Starring - Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett
Genre - Oscar chasing romantic biopic
Awards - 3 technical Oscars
Running time 166 minutes
Benjamin Button: "Your life is defined by its opportunities... even the ones you miss".
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the worse case scenario for the professional film critic, which isn't me, of course. Its not that it's particularly bad or anything but what it represents. It's strategically released around the awards season in February so the movie press can go along to the freebie junkets and parties and pick up their gift packs so encouraged to go away and write nice stuff about it, and with the studios full PR machine behind the film low-and-behold it gets loads of nominations! Everyone in the business knows it's a very average movie but it cynically fits all the nomination criteria - painstakingly long, dressed with at least two huge A-List stars and intelligent enough to smugly alienate the proletariat to make the Academy feel cleverer than their public by picking it.
This is nothing new of course and we have seen again and again over-rated and tiresome movies get nominated that fit this criterion, Babel and The English Patient to name but two. But something happened last year called the 'credit crunch' and the money dried up, Bollywood bailing out Hollywood with 60% of its funding, meaning it would be rather rude for The Academy not to give all the prizes to the wonderful Slumdog Millionaire, which they did, the first time in ages that the best film was actually the best film, although for me the gloss taken away from the superb Danny Boyle because of that alleged bias towards the Indians. There are three major Hollywood movies being made in India in 2009, the highest ever number in this new burgeoning relationship. It's a similar story in South Africa as Hollywood spreads it tentacles to feel out funding and cheaper labour.
The Academy have struck back this year with even longer shortlists to help boost grosses for this type of hyped movie, why there's a big gap between the fanfare of the films official nominations press conferences and Oscars night at the Kodak Theatre. Not surprisingly the five films that were nominated as best picture this year (it's now ten nominations for 2010) only just turned a buck between them in the multiplexes. Mid budget movies like Doubt, Milk and Revolutionary Road are just not making money anymore and so Hollywood are now putting the budgets and stars into films like Transformers and traditional disaster flicks so to help fund those smaller but more intelligent releases with the net profits. But let's hope the day of the dreary three hour sprawling Oscar type movie like Button is now over for a while and we can makes some cheaper fun movies in recession.
Brad Pitt...Benjamin Button
Cate Blanchett ... Daisy
Julia Ormond ... Caroline
Faune A. Chambers ... Dorothy Baker
Elias Koteas ... Monsieur Gateau
Donna DuPlantier ... Blanche Devereux
Jacob Tolano ... Martin Gateau
Jason Flemyng ... Thomas Button
Joeanna Sayler ... Caroline Button
Taraji P. Henson ... Queenie
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali ... Tizzy
Fiona Hale ... Mrs. Hollister
An old woman lies dying in a Louisiana hospital bed as lightning flickers from a far and the thunder rumbles foreboding for her fading mortality, her daughter (Julia Ormond) holding mums hand as Hurricane Katrina threatens to evacuate them, one move too many for frail Daisy (Kate Blanchet). But she is determined to tell her a story of the love of her life before that life ends as the curious tale of Benjamin Button begins, her daughter reciting the tale from her mom's diaries as we flash back to the 1930s steamy Deep South.
After a somewhat tenuous explanation of why the time is right for a baby to be born that's not like any other baby, we are soon in the bedroom of a pregnant woman in distress, surrounded by doctors, priests and relatives. She dies in agony giving birth to a troublesome baby, this no ordinary birth. The father rushes in and steels the baby away into the night, its strange appearance too much for him, dumping it on the porch of an old peoples home where its picked up by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), a black orderly woman who works there. And there little Benjamin stays, his crumpled odd Yoda like appearance fitting right in.
At first his bones are old and he is confined to a chair, the oddity now being mothered by Queenie as her own kin. Here he befriends 7-year-old Daisy (Elle Fanning), a hint of early sexual attraction but innocently side-stepped. As Daisy ages (Madison Beattie) and Benjamin (Tom Everett) carries on living in the home it's clear he is getting younger and soon strong enough to be up and around. He's been in the home too long now and so when a job offer comes up at the port he leaves and goes to sea, working for trawler man Captain Mike (Jared Harris).
Time passes and eventually he and the crew have to take the tug to war in the Merchant Navy to defend shipping in the Gulf of Mexico. On his travels after his seafaring, which includes a cold romantic affair with British society wife Caroline Hines (Tilda Swinton), Benjamin returns to the old folks home to see Queenie, Daisy now a beautiful 17-year-old (Katta Hules) and Benjamin (now a latexed Brad Pitt) much younger but still too old for his soul mate. The story presses on and on and eventually they meet at the same age, Daisy (Cate Blanchett) now a successful ballerina, Benjamin (Brad Pitt a she is now) young and gorgeous as the love story proper begins and the Katrina closes in on the hospital.
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"Benjamin, we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?"
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Like The English Patient, this was just one long aimless romantic yawn; one presumes the book it's taken from a far more sophisticated tale. But it's not a new script though and so time to get it right, Jack Nicholson originally lined up to play Button back in 1979, the script then purchased by Spielberg for a later date. It would have been a very different movie if he had directed it!
What may have happened here is casting and the producer have bottled out and pitched the perfect teeth of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to director David Fincher because they couldn't sell the movie any other way in recession. I have never been convinced Pitt can act and the guy just a catalogue model at best, Blanchett seriously wasted in this. When the two stars are finally recognisable come mid movie (which is 80 minutes in!) you say to yourself: oh look, there's Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet, what are they doing here? They are in the film purely as a presence to get the punters through the door. It may have deserved its three art and make up Oscars but the nominations for Pitt and Fincher are way off and purely about putting an erroneous prestige on the movie to simply make it more cash than about any merit recognition.
It's a shame really as the idea of a human being conceived as an old man and then living his life backwards, meeting his soul mate when he is 85 and she 11 is interesting, more than a suggestion of paedophilia in the writer's prose. There are some excellent lines here too but you only really see that side of the movie when you do your IMDB research for your review from the quotes section. That screenplay and delivery just doesn't come through in the film and this just turns out to be blatantly lazy in places. The reason why Benjamin was born old is never really explored and certainly not intelligently used. There are other hints to the reverse themes, hurricanes spinning backwards and the hummingbird references, the only bird that can fly both ways, but again hard to spot. What relevance is all this backwardness guys? It reminds me of Tom Hanks in Cast Away and how the script writers wasted all those parcels on the desert island that could contain just about anything to make that film very clever and intriguing yet they settled for the flipping soccer ball as the pretendy friend? Man I would love to rewrite that movie!
And staying on the subject of Hanks it's fair to say this film is basically a cross between Forrest Gump and Titanic; the James Cameron reference being the love story inserted to keep the whole thing a float with the old woman's narration to tell the tale of Forest, sorry Benjamin in the past through flashback. The layered southern drawl narration from Pitt and Blanchett also makes you feel drowsy and you could easily nod off and wake up and still pick up the movie narrative after 30 winks. Nothing really happens. The love story in Titanic is genuinely romantic and engaging and holds the film together where as Pitt and Blanchett on screen here have as much chemistry as John Major and a packet of frozen peas! I presume it's supposed to be a love story but it doesn't feel like that.
I will leave the final word on this film to the guy I sat next to for the Titanic screening back in 1998. Half way through he shouted: 'Hurry up and sink'!! Half way through this it did indeed sink and yet again I was suckered into renting a hyped up Oscar indulgence. I certainly do feel old after this.
Daisy: "We all end up in diapers Benjamin"
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Imdb.com scores it 8.1 out of 10.0 (111,234 votes)
RuN-TiMe -166 minutes
Any 2 films for 2 nights for £5 (don't forget to ask for your voucher!)
Amazon retail it at £6.88
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Dooyoo movie crown news....
Only seven crowns awarded this week by dooyoo. Get nominating guys or dooyoo will give only six next week and let the girls have more for their cosmetic reviews!