The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson
Release Date: December 25, 2008
Every movie made employs the use of some sort of gimmick. Some are smaller than others and they don’t always work but whether it is the cast, the special effects, or something else, every filmmaker uses some device that they hope will allow their movie to rise above their contemporaries. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the gimmick is the story. A baby is born with the appearance and all of the physical limitations of an old man who ages backwards through life. It’s really a fascinating premise that, beyond its initial intrigue, stirs a lot of questions. How would one operate under the construction of backwards aging? How would you let it shape your everyday life? On a deeper level, how would you deal with the inevitability of loss in your life that would be compounded by that very construction? It is in the film’s attempt to answer these questions that you will find its true appeal.
At first glance, this film seems like a fairly odd film choice for director David Fincher. The styles of his previous films were consistently dark and stylish, in story and design. So why would a director who made his name with films like Fight Club, Se7en, and Zodiac opt for a character-driven fairy tale? For starters, he is one of probably a handful of directors with the ability to handle the special effects needed to properly translate the required images to the screen while being able to balance them against the story. If the main device of the movie is the setup, then right behind it would be how the effects were handled. Technologically, the film is a masterpiece. Throughout the film we see Benjamin (Brad Pitt) at every point in his life, from grave to cradle. Almost every scene features Pitt at various ages other than his own and you are left with no choice other than to believe it — it is just that seamless. In an early scene you see a child’s body with the 80-year-old face of Brad Pitt and you believe it. It is obvious enough to notice but subtle enough for you not to care. It’s only after the film is over do you start to wonder how it was done. The greatest compliment I can give the film is never once are you taken out of the story because of the effects.
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