Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
"They said I was gonna die soon but, maybe not."
Written by: Eric Roth
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett
My rating: 4/10
I cannot understand how such an accomplished group of filmmakers can take such a magical and potentially profound story as this and make it so contrived. It boggled my mind as I was sitting in the cinema how this mess of sentiment and dullness could have come from such talented people. It struck me that maybe they got carried away with the notion that this was such a great premise that could couldn't mess it up...but they did. Thinking about it, I suppose the magic that this film needed was a different sort of magic to the magic David Fincher works; technical magic. This film needed an injection of luciousness and beauty and poetry and, I suppose, heart. A romance is created with little more than the assumption that the leading man falls for the leading lady. Nothing is built up and therefore, there's nothing to care about. Also, apart from being a nice guy, Benjamin Button had no character. He wasn't given a whole lot to do except experience experiences.
The film has a lot going for it though, Cate Blanchett shines particularly brightly in this one. She is stunningly beautiful and elegant and gives the character the kind of light she needed. Her distraction with getting old and losing her gift for dance was well played and gave the film an emotional boost. Brad Pitt's performance was sufficient but all of his best work came at the start when he was playing a young boy in an old man's body, everything after that felt like autopilot. In fact, the best of everything came early. All the thought-provocation came early, all of the imagination came early and up to a certain point there was a lot of humour and brain candy to enjoy. When Benjamin grew up, however, it focussed on the love story which, in my opinion, held no water and felt as flat as a pancake.
Technically, the film is brilliant. Like, proper brilliant and will stand the test of time no matter what comes after it. The ageing make-up and even more so, the youth-enhancing make-up was spectacular. It was so good it wasn't even distracting. Both stars looked like themselves, only softer and more graceful. This element is stunning and as far as direction goes, Fincher doesn't miss a beat. I think his biggest problem is that he isn't Tim Burton and couldn't give the audience the spectacle and imagination the film so badly needed.
The most important thing about this film is the questions it should have asked about life and it's structure, but it shied away from those in favour of a sappy love story which is a shame and didn't do the story justice. In the hands of a less technical director, the film might have been more about the backward clocks and the man being hit by lightning and less about domestic issues and lost love.
Check it out if you want a standard Hollywood weepie, but don't go in hoping to be inspired, it seems they lost their passion halfway through.
- Charlene Lydon 12/2/09