Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Review: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Grade: A+

The other day I went to go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button only knowing the length, close to three hours, and the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald that it’s based on. With that knowledge my expectations were not that high, how does one turn a short story into a movie that you could read said story 10 times over while watching, I had a feeling that it was going to be very drawn out and as a result very boring.

Well, I was dead wrong. I will admit, the first 10 minutes is a little slow and doesn’t involve Benjamin at all but is a very interesting story none the less. After that first bit, about a blind man who builds a clock that runs backward, I was hooked. It of course starts with the birth of a very peculiar baby, his mother dies giving birth to him and his father, played by the ever improving Jason Flemyng, seeing what looks like a monster of a baby leaves him on the steps of a nursing home, he is found by a young black woman who works there by the name of Queenie, played by Taraji P. Henson, who decides to take care of a baby that shows physical symptoms similar to those of a man in his 80’s and is close to death. Much to everybody’s surprise the boy lives and begins to grow healthier every year. The movie follows Benjamin’s life as he meets a beautiful girl Daisy, works on a tug boat, helps in WWII on said tug boat, goes home after the war, reconnects with Daisy, played by Cate Blanchett, gets married and has a child. It is a beautiful story well worth watching.

Most of the Story takes place in the beautiful city of New Orleans. It starts 1918 on the day World War One ends, then moves beautifully through the decades. The settings and places are shot beautifully and I loved that the scenes that take place in the first couple decades are shot and edited to look as though it was on old film, very subtly though, you really need to be paying attention to catch it. The visual effects, which there were many of, were beautiful and again so subtle sometimes that you almost couldn’t tell. For instance there is a 10 year old boy, who looks like he’s 75, but also shows the same features as Brad Pitt, this was not done through makeup alone. These effects work so well though that they grip you and truly pull you into the story.

This movie also had some of the finest acting in a movie I have ever seen. Brad Pitt as the title character of Benjamin Button was simply amazing. This is one of the roles he will forever be known for. So beautifully pulling off the physical movements of an elderly man who also has the mentality of a man in his prime. Cate Blanchett was fantastic as the beautiful Daisy. The performance, outside of Brad Pitt’s, that blew me away was Taraji P. Henson as Benjamin’s adoptive mother Queenie. She was superb as the very kind, caring and sweet young woman who works at a nursing home and raises Benjamin. Jason Flemyng was excellent as Thomas Button, Benjamin’s real father. Mahershalalhashbaz Ali was great as the traveling bushman Tizzy. Tilda Swinton was great as Elizabeth Abbott, a woman Benjamin meets and falls in love with while in Russia. Last, but certainly not least, Jarred Harris was fantastic as the out spoken tugboat captain, Captain Mike, who helps Benjamin come of age, so to speak.

When you combine the excellent directing by David Fincher, an amazing story and script, superb acting from a great cast and beautiful visual effects you get the best movie to come out in years and a movie that, in my opinion, will be listed as one of the great classics of all time on the level with Gone With The Wind and Casablanca. This movie is a must see for all movie fans and non movie fans alike

As a P.S. I would like to change my pick for best Drama in my best of ’08 blog to The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button for all reasons stated above.

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