The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

February 8, 2010
By TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
177 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To be great is to be misunderstood" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've never been a huge fan of David Fincher, to be quite honest. Granted, I enjoyed both Fight Club and Zodiac, however, I never thought either were grand masterpieces - let alone great films. Though The Curious Case of Benjamin Button fits in the same quality category as the films previously listed, I do admire this as being Fincher's most emotional work to date.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is, as one might think, about the life of a particularly unique individual named Benjamin Button. What separates Benjamin from most people in life, is the fact that he literally ages in reverse. Born looking like an eighty-five year old man, Benjamin appears to grow only younger as the years go by for him. However, though he looks older, Benjamin goes through the journey of life that all people go through - with all of its up, downs, and relationships attached.

The film's crowning quality is the characterization of Benjamin, along with Brad Pitt's excellent performance, as we travel with him from his birth to his death. His relationships, his interactions, his questions, his passions - these emotionally investing factors lead us to sympathize with Benjamin as he "grows up". We laugh with him, cry with him, wonder with him, dream with him, etc. and so forth. Now, I know that may sound cliche or cheesy, but this can be ignored/forgiven when you experience the film and its characters.

The visuals are really impressive, as well. It's got an interesting flair that keeps scenes from appearing static or visually lifeless. Its knack for being able to capture what the world looked like from 1930's - 2000's is also a quality to be praised, as it, more often than not, hits the nail on the head with the look. While it never does anything particularly amazing, the visuals give the film a nice, slick look that adds to the emotional tale of Benjamin Button.

Benjamin Button, though, isn't without flaw. Firstly, the heaviest complaint I have would be the film's tendency to drive into being overly-melodramatic at times. Melodrama is nice and all, as this is a dramatic film, but it sometimes feels as if the filmmakers were trying to emotionally hit you as many times as they could. This, therefore, leads to some scenes - particularly near the end - that try far too hard to get a reaction. It just makes the viewer feel emotionally distant, even almost manipulated at points.

Another point to note would be how convoluted the beginning and ending were. If we're being honest, the film starts out horribly with an elderly-looking Daisy wheezing away random facts, all the while being a bit too over-the-top for my tastes. The revelations made near the end, particularly about Benjamin's' fatherhood, all really felt harmfully bizarre to the overall film. I mean, who waits to tell her daughter who her real father is until they're in their deathbed? It almost felt like a lame plot twist. The overworking melodrama, plus the horrible opening and average ending, really hampered the film as a whole.

I'll give Benjamin Button credit, however. Despite being over 2 1/2 hours long, the film never drags. It gets slow, yes, and you can feel the length at points, yes, but never once does the film ever stretch a scene needlessly out. It's quite impressive, really, and I have to hand it to David Fincher for achieving such a great pacing - something that even master directors can have trouble with.

Benjamin Button is a unique film, all right. It may feel A LOT like Forrest Gump at points - due to both films having the same screenwriter - but this isn't too much of a complaint. This film is just as good, if not better, than Gump. Though it can be bogged down by over-melodramatics and convoluted events, Benjamin Button shines for its characters and emotional resonance with its audience. It's not perfect, but you can sure feel this film's heart.

7/10 - Good

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