Friday, February 6, 2009

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

By Alec Horowitz

Three stars

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ is a quirky little epic. ‘Benjamin Button’ is a soulful and wonderful film that suffers from an uneven script by ‘Forest Gump’ scribe Eric Roth. The story is set in a fantasy tone, based on 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Brad Pitt gives one of his better performances as Benjamin Button, an abandoned child who has the misfortune of growing younger instead of older. He has the physical appearance of an old man who looks to be in his 80’s while in his childhood. Benjamin is a abandoned baby who is found by poor African American women named Queenie, in a performance by Tarija Henson, who should receive an Oscar nomination. I will see a more warm performance all year. Queenie is a wonderful character that decides to raise Benjamin Button like her own child. Even after she has a baby of her own, she continues making sure Button feels like a member of the family.

The story of Benjamin Button and his life is wonderfully done, if yet uneven in some parts. The best part of the story is the relationship Benjamin has with his adopted mother and father (Mahershalalhasbaz Ali). They are the most interesting and wonderful characters I have seen for a while. His relationship with Daisy (Kate Blanchett) is interesting as he grows younger and she grows older. The relationship has the feel of both a female nightmare and fantasy at the same time. The problem with this film isn’t the story of Benjamin Button’s life. The feel his life story has is wonderfully pure fantasy. The problem is the part of the film where a much older Daisy is on her deathbed and talking to her child. It’s a fine way to move the story along, but the undertones about Hurricane Katrina and the time they have leading up to that event feel a bit forced and unnecessary. ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ really didn’t need political undertones and it also made the time frame between 1918 New Orleans and 2005 New Orleans seem a little bit like a plot hole. The fantasy tone the film has besides this works better than the realistic political undertones. Roth should of stuck with the fantasy feel of the film in his script. Just because it worked with his ‘Forest Gump’ script doesn’t mean it works so greatly with this one.

Though, I must say putting the unevenness aside, that Benjamin Button does have an uplifting message about how you live your life matters more than time and age. I feel like this is a transition role for Brad Pitt, who should consider doing more films like this one, and even consider doing some movies that are in the fantasy genre. Though, I would also say be careful what roles he does pick. ‘Benjamin Button’ can be a wonderful film and has many good characters, yet sometimes the unevenness gets the best of it. Though the film does start to feel a bit strange watching someone get younger. Watching Benjamin Button try to get involved with a twelve year old looking Daisy, though he is the same age, does an evil look from the grandmother. Benjamin is quickly comforted by his adopted mother who says he is a man child and people wouldn’t understand. When he comes back from war looking younger, she assumes it’s God’s work. Also, introducing him to her natural child as her “brother” is another a small but wonderful and heartwarming scene. As I have said, Tarija Henson is Oscar worthy in this film and I doubt I will see a more warm and soulful performance this year. Really, the script is the only thing curious about this film. That is all.

1 comment:

John Purcell said...

I'm not surprised to hear you say he should have stuck with a "fantasy" aspect to the script and that you think Brad Pitt should do more fantasy roles. I know how you love a good fantasy movie.