The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
How many times were you voted Sexiest Man Alive?


Golden Mug

2008 GOLDEN MUG NOMINEE:

Best Director (David Fincher)
Best Supporting Actress (Taraji P. Henson)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth(screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald(short story))
Best Cinematography (Claudio Miranda)
Best Score (Alexandre Desplat)
Best Film Editing (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)
Best Art Direction (Donald Graham Burt (Art Direction), Victor J. Zolfo (Set Decoration))
Best Costume Design (Jacqueline West)
Best Visual Effects (Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron)


Theatrical Release Date: 12/25/2008
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng, Jared Harris, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali

If you’ve seen the trailer, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” may not seem so curious. In the film, Brad Pitt is born old and ages backwards to his youth. The trick is coming up with characters and a story interesting enough to hold an audience’s attention for the 2 hour and 45 minute runtime.

Well, thanks to director David Fincher, a F. Scott Fitzgerald short story beautifully adapted by writer Eric Roth and the cast and crew, the result is a wonderfully touching and well made film that reminds people that cinema can cover a lot of time and space while still being entertaining, if handled correctly.

Brad Pitt has done a remarkable job of choosing talented filmmakers and actors to work alongside and that’s no different here. While the end result may not always work (*cough* “Meet Joe Black”), it’s rarely because of any failing of his. Here, Pitt’s performance is pitch perfect (what is it with me and alliteration?) and beautifully captures the subtle edges to the character – one which is practically unique to film.

Having to blend the mind of a child with the body of an old man and then to gain wisdom and experience as the years come off of the body is quite a feat. Pitt’s likable personality shines through at any age and endears the character to the audience almost immediately. Once that was done, the rest of the film almost couldn’t help but fall into place.

Likewise, Cate Blanchett delivers a powerful performance of her own, as she also manages to make the aging process so believable. Her character is one of remarkable willpower and determination. As she discovers her path in life, Blanchett’s amazing ability to imbue so much intensity into her character flourishes. Seeing her love for Pitt adapt to the situations created by their physical ages is heartbreaking and only an actress as accomplished and graceful as Blanchett could pull it off so successfully.

Taraji P. Henson also must get credit for her role as surrogate mother to Benjamin Button. The vitality and sheer love that radiates from the character is infectious and heartfelt. She also must undergo the remarkable make-up process and she handles it quite well – keeping in step with Pitt and Blanchett to make one of the more problematic elements of the film a non-issue.

At this point, it’s time to salute the make-up and CGI teams responsible for aging the characters. I think a few statuettes are in order here because of how seamless the process is made for the audience. Far too often (basically every time), whenever an actor sits in the make-up chair and gets a touch up to look a few decades older, the result is almost cartoonish and very, very obvious.

Here, while I’ll admit some elements work better than others, the number of gasps the audience let out at seeing Pitt regress in age is a clear sign of how believable it was. There were points when it seemed like they must have found a super-magical way to lift his image from previous films (because current face mapping usually looks horrendous). Blanchett and Henson also received supremely believable adjustments to their characters that didn’t allow the audience to disconnect from the film as they might have if given the chance to ridicule a bad make-up job.

There are also very subtle touches done, especially early in the film, to show Pitt’s character as so much smaller than he really is. The work done by the crew here is so good and reminds me of all of the more obvious tricks that Peter Jackson had used for the Lord of the Rings trilogy (some things worked better than others there). However, the methods used here worked much, much better and rarely distracted me from the film.

The film really isn’t so much about plot but about the character’s discoveries about themselves and the world as they experience life from the end of World War I right up to the point at which Hurricane Katrina blew into New Orleans, where the majority of the film takes place. It isn’t quite so tied to historical events as “Forrest Gump” (which Eric Roth also wrote the screenplay for) or reliant on so many fantasy related elements as “Big Fish” but those are the two closest parallels to make and if you liked those two films, this will be a slam dunk.

For its genre, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” does everything right with very minor missteps and as such, I’m giving it a 5 out of 5. It wasn’t one of my absolute favorite films of the year but I enjoyed it very much and for anyone who enjoys the big, sprawling epic films centered on a love that disregards time and bends the fabric of reality, this is clearly something for you. While it’s very long runtime may scare some people off, if you and your significant other can handle that, just remember to thank me for recommending a film that will spring your love for one another anew.