Now the tough part about making movies out of stories like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is the fact that you have to be able to adapt it to the big screen in a manner that it actually retains audience interest for the proposed duration of the movie. This coupled with the fact that most audiences worldwide would actually lose interest if the length of the movie is anywhere more than 120-150 mins (and this is a stretch) makes it practically impossible for an interesting and wonderful story such as the Benjamin Button one to be properly translated into a coherent movie. But I personally absolutely loved what Eric Roth (screenplays such as ‘Munich’, ‘Forrest Gump’ under his belt) and David Fincher (director of ‘Alien’,’Seven’,’Fight Club’,’Panic Room’ among others) have done with the lovely short story of Benjamin Button authored by F Scott Fitzgerald.
The crux of the movie (although public knowledge by now) deals with the fact that here is this kid who is born ‘old’ in the sense that although he is a baby he is born with the appearance and the physical maladies of a 80 yr old man. His father, Thomas Button dismayed by the kid and angered by the fact that his wife died at childbirth abandons him on the porch of an old-age nursing home. Queenie, the caretaker of the home brings up the child as her own son and names him Benjamin. The boy grows up (or is it down) seemingly ageing in the reverse as he grows older (or is that younger). Just the fact that the protagonist of the movie is ageing backwards pretty much throws all conventional ideas about a coherent story out of the window and this is what makes the story of Benjamin Button a curious one and an amazingly interesting one.
Through the course of his life, Benjamin comes across Daisy (a character portrayed wonderfully by the talented and elegant Cate Blanchett) at various stages. From his first encounter with her when he was 12 yrs old (in regular chronological terms) till the time he actually dies in her lap when he is 85 yrs old, Daisy forms an integral part of his life. The particular relationship and chemistry they share reminds viewers of Eric Roth’s treatment of Forrest Gump and Jenny from ‘Forrest Gump’. Not that I have any complaints against that, considering that most good movies almost always have an underlying love story at their core.
Another small but significant role in the movie is played by Tilda Swinton who plays Elizabeth, Benjamin’s first real ‘love interest’ so to say. Although she has screen-time of only around 10-12 mins, she leaves an indelible stamp on the movie and the proceedings. I guess that’s why she is as acclaimed an actress as she is today. This part of the movie still remains etched in my memory for the sheer simplicity and class with which it has been handled and filmed.
I personally would love each and every one of the readers here to watch the movie for themselves and judge it. But the following are some of the things that really worked for me in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’- a reasonably rivetting screenplay where the dull moments are few and far between, masterful performances by Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, the attention to detail paid by the Art and Set Direction department, the sheer breadth of human emotions dealt with in the movie.
However, as mentioned before, on more than one occassion this movie reminds you of ‘Forrest Gump’ in terms of the fact that the leading lady keeps coming back into the protagonist’s life time and again. And the sheer simplicity with which the protagonist leads his life also reminds viewers of Forrest Gump at times.
I would still watch this movie at least once simply because all the pros easily outweigh the cons by far.
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