Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Title: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Dir: David Fincher
Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars

This movie further supports a long-held hypothesis of mine: David Fincher is completely incapable of disappointing me. In my mind, his movies are rated on a scale from 'very good' to 'genius'. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button falls somewhere near the latter. The film has a unique story, beautiful cinematography, and a lot of great performances. It is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and tells the tale of a man who ages backwards.

Born a shriveled old man, Benjamin gradually learns to walk without crutches, his eye sight improves, and his hair gets thicker and darker. When he becomes old enough - and young-feeling enough - he ventures out into the world. He spends some time on a tugboat, gets drunk, gets laid, falls in love, loses love, and everything else we experience in life. And he is getting younger all the while. When he returns home, he reunites with a childhood sweetheart (Cate Blanchett) and they are now the same age, physically. And a beautiful love story ensues.

The narrative is very much like Forrest Gump, only with a more fantastical approach (like Big Fish). Needless to say, prepare for a tear-jerker. The performances are all great, the story is moving, and Finchers visuals are great, as always. The makeup and special effects are also pretty staggering, I cannot get over how they make the actors look older and younger.

I think Benjamin Button has been unfairly judged by some people because its more straight-forward or feel-good than movies like The Wrestler or Slumdog Millionaire. But what's wrong with fantastical storytelling? I loved those two aforementioned movies, but I also believe that Button stands toe-to-toe with them and should be recognized as such.