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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button February 19, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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David Fincher’s much talked about film has quite an intriguing premise. What would happen if someone had to live life backwards? Born as an old man, the film’s protagonist Benjamin Button grows younger as time progresses and the film tracks the major events in his journey from life to death. This is more or less a fictional biopic of a character based on fantasy.

A role such as Button’s requires an actor to adapt to old age as well as young, focus on body language and make the audience root for him. Brad Pitt does all this with aplomb though I fail to see how I could evaluate part of his performance without being able to differentiate between effects and reality. The other important character in the film that evolves with Button is his love interest, Daisy, admirably portrayed by Cate Blanchett. Another splendid actress, Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading), plays the British woman who has an affair with Button in another interesting passage of his life. Despite the presence of such capable performers, the relatively unknown Taraji P Henson holds her own and grabs your attention as Button’s foster mother.

This is, without a shred of doubt, a very very well crafted film. With Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac) at the helm, you expect nothing less. There is a lot to love in this film. Most of all, the magnificent visual effects. You wonder throughout the film about how they managed to make Brad Pitt look the way he does in the film. The outstanding visuals are aided by the superlative production design (Donald Graham Burt) and cinematography (Claudio Miranda).

The hard work put into the making of this film translates beautifully onto the screen. There is so much in this film that one can recall vividly even after many days; whether it is his affair with British woman or his outing as a sailor or Daisy’s accident. However, visuals aren’t always enough. Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) weaves a competent screenplay but it lacks moments that would make it memorable. At the end of the film, I asked myself if it conveyed anything particularly insightful about life through the living in reverse device. Nothing stood out except the attempt to depict the similarities between the beginning and the end of life in both physical and mental terms.

The 166 minute film isn’t particularly entertaining in terms of humor and thrills. It clearly isn’t for everyone but where I was watching, silence prevailed and everyone seemed to be thoroughly involved. At times you couldn’t even chew your popcorn without distracting those around you. Despite the novel premise and the interesting life that Button leads, this film falls short of being great. Watch this if you would for the premise, visuals and effects.

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Comments»

1. vallabh - February 21, 2009

That’s absolutely right. The visuals and the effects. One scene that thrilled me then and even now when I recall it is the war scene in dark waters at night where bullets fire on to a boat suddenly that look like long streaks of speeding light rays hitting the boat with heavy impact. It’s absolutely awesome.

Needless to say, a lot of time and labour went into costume department and it was fruitful. Also, I read somewhere that shorter and old looking version of Button was actually someone who was made up to look like Brad Pitt. Though this movie may not be a crowd pleaser, it sure deserves a lot of praises and a few Acadamy Awards for that matter.

2. Shujath - February 23, 2009

The beauty of this film is that despite being a slow moving drama you are hooked to it continually in anticipation of what happens next – more precisely how Benjamin would look in his next “reverse aged” appearance.

Like Vallabh said in his comment, it’s really the first time that I saw bullet fire being shown in a night war sequence like that – quite scary to imagine really.

Anyways – the Academy Awards for makeup and visual effects were well deserved!


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