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December 2008

by Wilson Morales


Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Eric Roth
Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas, Julia Ormond
Rating: PG-13 (for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking)


The story of a man who ages backwards may sound gimmicky to say the least, but with David Fincher as its director, and Brad Pitt as the protagonist, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' is elegant, well structured, and well acted by the entire cast from Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Taraji P. Henson.

Spanning over 60 years of the character's life, and given a running time of nearly three hours, there's plenty of time to absorb this visually and uplifting fantasy.
Set in 1919, a mother dies of childbirth leaving behind a toddler who has the appearance and symptoms of a dying 85 year old. Left at the doorstep of a New Orleans retirement-home by his mortified father, Benjamin Button is taken in by a Black nurse named Queenie (Henson). She tells everyone that the child is her flesh and blood from her sister whom she wishes to care for. With so many of the elderly lost in their own world, no one could tell the difference.

Years go by and with Button looking like the old man he was born as, most of the residents consider him as one of their own, but he has the mind of a youth who is learning about life and more about himself. One day, at the age of 7, he meets the love of his life, Daisy, who is also 7, but looks it physically. While his relationship is platonic at first, Queenie informs him that his appearance is not welcomed by others and that he needs to be careful.

Over time, Button goes through life witnessing many things, from love, death, being in the war, and seeing the world, while appearing younger and younger until he meets Daisy at an appreciate age where all is right. Eventually, Benjamin knows where the future lies, and makes preparations for it.

Written by Oscar winning screenwriter Eric Roth, who penned 'Forrest Gump', he skillfully took a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1922 and injected with life and emotion. There are plenty of adventures that Button goes on, from his sea venturing tales to his motorcycling days across the country. Fincher, who previously directed 'Zodiac' certainly takes his time fleshing out the characters, but never to a nauseating effect.

Aside from the digital effects done of Blanchett's face, which wasn't necessary, the rest of the film looks gorgeous including the superb prosthetic makeup done on Pitt. Pitt, whose voice is heard throughout the entire film from his old appearance to his youth, gives an affecting performance that gracefully brings the audience along for this long journey. Henson is simply stunning and wonderful as the loving mother.

If there's one story that you want to be intrigued by and watch it grow into something fascinating, you can't wrong with this one. It's worth the cinematic journey.