“The CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON” (Brad Pitt & Cate Blanchette)
‘CCBB’ is a quaint tale about a unique man who led a rather ordinary life despite living it in reverse. I was indeed curious to see if they could make it look believable, & yes, they do – extraordinarily so. The feature attraction is watching the special effects that make Brad Pitt (Benjamin) appear to be an 80 year old man living in a (decrepit) child’s body.
Unfortunately, the movie itself isn’t quite so interesting; in fact, as Benjamin ‘grows’ younger the film becomes less fascinating. His time working on a tug boat is the most interesting phase of the man’s life – other than that, he’s kind of boring; nice, but with a rather bland personality. The energy in Benjamin’s life comes from the women he associates with as in most of his scenes with Cate Blanchette & Tilda Swinton, the females do most of the talking – Benjamin just sits quietly & listens...
Born a wrinkled baby appearing to be on the verge of death, Benjamin’s father abandons the infant on the porch of a New Orleans boarding house for the elderly. Black housekeeper Queenie takes the baby in, claiming it to be her sister’s child. Growing up with the appearance of an aged old man, Benjamin fits right in with the boarders that are nearing the end of their lives. A recurring bit about an old man who starts every conversation with “Did I ever tell you I’ve been hit by lightning seven times?” is one of the few amusing highlights – As this is first & foremost, a love story.
Daisy (Blanchette) the granddaughter of one of the boarders senses that Benjamin isn’t like the other old fogies & befriends Benjamin. When ‘teenaged’ Benjamin (looking to be in his 60’s) leaves to take a job on a tug boat, Daisy makes him promise to send a postcard from every place he visits.
The time spent on the tug boat & the crew’s inevitable involvement in WWII make for the most interesting segments. Benjamin’s response to the Captain’s question as to why Benjamin appears to be taller & younger than when they first met is the title character’s one funny line.
The film loses its momentum when Benjamin returns from his travels & tries ‘courting’ Daisy - it morphs into that realm of dull chick flick.
Then the heart of the film takes a blow when Benjamin leaves Daisy at a crucial time in their lives – for what I thought was a very lame reason. It made Benjamin less likeable.
Then, on top of that they skim over Benjamin’s time as a teenager that had already lived a full life by simply showing him doing odd jobs in various parts of the world.
All in all, however, I liked this film – It will be nominated for Best Picture, but won’t deserve to win, though it looks like it may. It is a ‘must see’ because creating Benjamin’s backward life was masterfully accomplished.
Brad Pitt’s ‘appearance’ throughout the film is impressive; his performance is not – Though in all fairness, he isn’t asked to do all that much despite being in practically every scene except the very beginning & at the end.
Cate is fine, not up to her usual standard, but she too is overshadowed by the make-up effects.
‘CCBB’ is a visual masterpiece, you have to admire it for that – But there really isn’t much of a story here – Just a man born under unusual circumstances. The connection between Benjamin’s life & a clock that was purposely made to run backward intertwine; other than that there is no other explanation offered as to why this curious life played out the way it did. The clock & hummingbirds are used as life & death symbols – sometimes poignant, sometimes ‘hokey’. Do see it, though, it is hard not to feel that you just witnessed something ‘special’.