On the day that Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, elderly Daisy Williams (nee Fuller) is on her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital. At her side is her adult daughter, Caroline. Daisy asks Caroline to read to her aloud the diary of Daisy's lifelong friend, Benjamin Button. Benjamin's diary recounts his entire extraordinary life, the primary unusual aspect of which was his aging backwards, being diagnosed with several aging diseases at birth and thus given little chance of survival, but who does survive and gets younger with time. Abandoned by his biological father, Thomas Button, after Benjamin's biological mother died in childbirth, Benjamin was raised by Queenie, a black woman and caregiver at a seniors home. Daisy's grandmother was a resident at that home, which is where she first met Benjamin. Although separated through the years, Daisy and Benjamin remain in contact throughout their lives, reconnecting in their forties when in age they finally match up. Some of the revelations in Benjamin's diary are difficult for Caroline to read, especially as it relates to the time past this reconnection between Benjamin and Daisy, when Daisy gets older and Benjamin grows younger into his childhood years. - synopsis from IMDB
Directed by David Fincher.
Rated 7.8 on IMDB from 480870 votes.
Runtime: 166 min.
Most good movies have good stories to start off with. Something to tingle the mind, something off key. So, there it was, after a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, brought to life in image, an oddity, a peculiar tale, the curious case of Benjamin Button.
Where at first the tone is light and the scenery quite the opposite, the drama of the film is far more prominent towards the end, where times seem lighter, more invigorated. As we follow Benjamin through the strange endeavour that is his life, passing so many people while moving in the opposite direction himself, we learn surprisingly little about his true emotions let alone his take on his extraordinary condition and more importantly, the consequences it bears. Is he bitter or resentful? Does he simply feel challenged to live his life as best he can, does the sensation of losing all you knew and loved into the body of a child strike fear in his heart? Fincher will not tell us.
In quite similar fashion, the other significant characters are only well represented by Daisy as far as emotions go. Instead, we witness a light-hearted fashion of story telling which is interluded by suitable humor. Perhaps this is a weapon in disguise: that which endears, attracts sympathy and consequently had me by the throat towards the end. All in all, the chosen style is not overly dramatic, which is befitting for a story that is rather humble by nature. A fairly straight-forward account of the story is the result of leaving judgement to the viewer. As it should be.
Although Fincher requires no less than a tad shy of three hours to tell this story and he manages to interest all the way through, the ending is actually quite to the point. I felt this was a good choice. Once the story is told, end it. Come to think of it, that’s probably more Fitzgerald’s doing.
If there was anything that bothered me about Button, and I’m being picky, it was the lack of an engaging soundtrack. That would have been the icing on the cake for me. All this means that I left with a strange subdued feeling. An intriguing story that poses quite a few questions. Just reflecting on it makes me think: “Jesus, what a mind-job”. And a surprinsingly refreshing one too. Go look for yourself.
Seen: 08 Feb 2009
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