Thursday, June 25, 2009

Young Man River

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button(2008)
Directed by David Fincher

I enjoyed David Fincher's direction, but was turned off, by Eric Roth's rampant Forrest Gumpery.
As I watched I found myself doing a mental checklist, one dimensional character defined by disability-check, mother who runs a boarding house full of eccentrics-check, friend in the boating industry-check, brief war time cameo-check, lifelong love interest began in childhood-check, dramatic learn to walk scene-check, peripheral real life celebrities-check...then I tried to make myself get over it, and enjoy the images.
An old woman dying asks her daughter to read the diary of the man she loved, who was born an old man, and ages in reverse.

Button is assumed by his father to be a monster and abandoned, an infant who looks like an old man.
As he gets bigger, he begins to look younger, less wrinkly anyway.
He then has a fantastically interesting life, he's raised in New Orleans by a kindly black woman (which is treated as about as nonchalantly as Benjamin's reverse aging. Forrest at least, we know was named after a Klansman), goes abroad, as a young grey man, comes into enough money early on, to spend the rest of his life, motorcycling around and wooing Cate Blanchett, a girl he knew when he was a decrepit young boy.
The romance is unconvincing, but lifelong, becoming intimate when both are in the middle of their lifetimes. The rest gets kinda stale, and quick.
As my friend Matthew Lingo noted, "And really, can any of you tell me anything at all about the personalities of Benjamin or Daisy, beyond that he ages backwards and she wants to be a dancer?"

The special effects, are the real star of the show, it's interesting to watch Pitt and Blanchett criss cross age wise, and Fincher has the occasional non-sequitter, men being struck by lightning, building backwards clocks and sailing out to sea, which are enjoyable enough.
But ultimately the case of Benjamin Button was allot less curious, then you would imagine. In fact it feels downright, run of the mill, no matter which way the mill runs.

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