Monday, March 02, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Rating : 7/10
Time : 166 minutes
Director : David Fincher; Writer : Eric Roth
Starring : Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng

An intriguing concepts brilliance is partially dimmed by an extremely slow moving tale, but still manages to provide an interesting watch overall. There is a little story, right at the beginning of the film, which sets the tone for what is to come – a famed watchmaker creates a watch which is rolling back time – ie moving perfectly but backwards. In much the same fashion, Benjamin is born ‘old’ – as a baby, he is wrinkled, suffers from arthritis and has cataract in his eyes. He is abandoned by his father (mom dies during childbirth) in front of an old peoples home, and that actually turns out to be a great choice, as little Benjamin, wheelchair bound, with white hair, and all the characteristics and demeanour of a 80 year old during his infant years, feels very much at home there. And as he becomes older, Benjamin becomes younger – from wheelchair he moves on to crutches, then a walking stick, then a limp and then, around the time he’s 50 years old, he can run, ride the bike etc.

This story, of Benjamin's reverse ageing, is overlaid with three others. One is about his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Daisy (Cate, who plays a tough role just right), with whom he has an on-off affair over a long peroid of time. The other is with a lady in Murmansk, shown below, a married Brit,
with whom he spends most of his nights just sitting up, chatting and dancing. The third is the relationship with his father – who, without revealing who he is, tries to befriend Benjamin.
The movie reminded me of two other films – one was Forrest Gump, for the slow drawl in whch Benjamin speaks and for its attempt to use world events around it to shape the story (World War II, Hurricane Katrina etc). And the other was Bridges of Madison County, for the nature of romance between Daisy and Benjamin and how it is discovered by Caroline.

There are enough nice moments – the flag raising ceremony at the old people's home, the Wagner loving old lady, the guy who’s struck by lightning 7 times, the private ballet performance by Daisy,
there was the correction around ‘most’ beautiful vs just beautiful by someone on her deathbed. The transformation shown in Brad Pitt is remarkable. And Cate Blanchett steals the show from Brad Pitt, for me, never looking more beautiful,
showing just the right degree of free-spiritedness and arrogance along with a perfect ballerina-like posture to go with her acting. However, there are huge empty spaces, long pauses in the film as well and the 166 minute length doesn’t exactly fly through.

It is a very unique concept – something I really envy Hollywood – there are just too few concept movies in India. It does make you stop and think, what if life was like that. I remember once someone remarking to me when we’d just started working that the salary system should be reversed. The young guys should get the directors salary and vice versa, as they are far better placed to enjoy it / spend it with no worries / diet restrictions / health issues etc. A movie like this one makes you wonder if there isn’t a point in there after

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Defenitely 166 minutes is a put off for me but i should watch it for the concept. Have you seen "the reader" yet?