Tuesday, December 30, 2008

movie minute

Button Up: First of all, if a person is born old as a baby then shouldn't they die young as an adult? That's what bothered me most about direction David Fincher's (Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac) new film The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. The movie reteams Fincher with his golden boy Brad Pitt who plays the title character. After being born with a rare (does it even really exist?) condition, Benjamin ages backwards. He starts out as a baby who is about 80 years old and then proceeds to grow younger; he's his own fountain of youth.

The movie is adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's story of the same name but apparently the two have little in common with the exception of their title. Even though the film is 2 hours and 44 minutes long, this picaresque picture glides along at a brisk pace. The film starts just before Hurricane Katrina is due to hit with Daisy, an old woman on her deathbed, telling her daughter the story of how she and Benjamin met. It then moves to post WWI with the birth of Benjamin. As Benjamin begins to "age" he meets a 12-year old Daisy with whom he bonds. She is the same age chronologically that he is mentally. The two continue to meet up year after year as she stays with her grandmother at the boarding house in which he lives.

Benjamin eventually goes off to work on a tugboat and gets caught up in WWII. He also meets British woman Elizabeth Abbott (played by Tilda Swinton) although through it all he and Daisy continue their contact with one another.

Their lives continue to intersect in different ways and as Benjamin realizes Daisy (now a grown up played by the radiant Cate Blanchett) is his true love something awful happens which threatens to permanently tear them apart.

The film has been compared to Forrest Gump and rightly so but the difference is this is a beautfiully written love story of two people who literally meet in the middle to live their lives together.

Aside from the medical implausibility of the film, the only other complaint I had was the interludes with the man who "got struck by lightning seven times." The rest of the cast, particularly Taraji P. Henson who plays Benjamin's "mother" are all good too.

The movie is wonderfully directed and is a shoo-in for Best Picture, Best Director and will earn Brad Pitt another Oscar nomination. He has really matured as an actor and has proven just how deft he is at both drama and comedy (as witnessed by this year's earlier release Burn After Reading in which he played a gay gym employee).

Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 4.25

Oscar nominations:

Best Actor-Brad Pitt
Best Picture
Best Director-David Fincher
Best Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay

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