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Your life is defined by its opportunities... even the ones you miss.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (DVD)
Member Name: paulie1975
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (DVD)
Advantages: Wonderfully shot, beautiful in moments, great acting, epic in scenes
Disadvantages: Some of the concepts felt uncomfortable for me, the story felt slightly too long and forced in parts
Based on an F Scott Fitzgerald Short Story this is a fantasy tale about an old man, Benjamin (Brad Pitt), who is born old, he is discarded as a baby and brought up in an old peoples home, however while everyone else ages, he gets younger.
The story is directed by the rather brilliant David Fincher of Fight Club and The Social Network. The most striking thing about this film, is how beautifully it is shot. Set in New Orleans around the time of Hurricane Katrina we meet a dying woman, Daisy Williams (Cate Blanchett) who relays the story of Benjamin Button to her daughter (Julia Ormond).
The film is mostly told in flashback from Benjamin's birth in 1920's New Orleans onwards and it is beautiful, the places and sets look fantastic, the black and white shots of people's memories are stunningly shot and the costumes and looks are just perfect.
The story itself is somewhat twee, scripted by the writer of Forrest Gump, it wants to stir emotion, and does so in opportune moments, but it sadly lacks something to really grab the viewer.
For me, the issue I had with the film was I couldn't put aside my curiosity over how somebody who was getting younger could live, how they could watch all their loved ones die, and how they could appreciate their experiences, also I failed to really take in how, Benjamin could accept love for another person as he watched them age and he got younger, how his lover could still have memories of love and sex for somebody who was devolving into a child, these images made me very uncomfortable and became the defining parts of the story for me, which is disappointing.
Thinking about it, this is a good story, but the issues I've mentioned made it somewhat less emotive than it could have been, although the final image is beautifully thought out and requires concentration at the start of the film.
The best parts of the film are watching the elderly Button learn about life with a childlike enthusiasm and a pensioner's body, as he learns about life, work and love, he seizes each day enthusiastically.
The story has lots of holes in it, such as how a woman could give birth to a baby that within 4 years becomes 5'8 tall, but you have to put belief on hold.
The acting is very good, stand out performances for me are Pitt as Button, Taraji P. Henson as Queenie and Tilda Swinton as the wife of a British diplomat, Pitt in particular carries off the role of narrator and star with ease, it is clearly him at all ages and the use of effects is clever, but I always admire the way he wants to be the role he plays and puts himself into the performance. Henson is infectious as the loving Queenie, a true mother in every sense, while Swinton offers a wonderful performance of control and restraint as an enamoured spouse.
Cate Blanchett grows into her role as Button's lover 'Daisy' at first she is annoying and immature, but as Benjamin grows younger she develops into a caring and thoughtful person. In this respect the moment the lovers meet as equal ages is a key point in the film at all other times they are not equal in some respect, physicality or maturity, it is purely at this moment that their love makes sense, for the rest of the film for me, I had feelings in the back of my head that some of the feelings of each character were a bit creepy, but this is more to do with societal attitudes than anything wrong in the story.
I took the main films concept to be a couples attempts to understand their feelings over a lifetime of missed opportunities and social discrepancy, however the realities of the tale, just made two thirds of it much too unbelievable for me to fully lose myself in it, as I had hoped to.
The film covers sixty years in the history of America and is an elegant and at times enchanting story of love, life and death, at other times it feels as though the story is a eulogy to all those loved and lost in our life's. As beautiful as this is, and at times some of the shots are breath-taking, the film as a whole just lacks something extra to make it a true classic.
The film is beautifully shot and told, it is elegant and unrushed and the actors make the most of their roles, but for some reason I found the story overlong and a tad forced in moments, yes Blanchett and Pitt are attractive leads, yes the story is quirky and epic in many senses, but it feels like a brilliantly thought out short story that has been fleshed out and this definitely weakens the narrative a lot.
Brad Pitt ... Benjamin Button
Tilda Swinton ... Elizabeth Abbott
Faune A. Chambers...Dorothy Baker
Elias Koteas...Monsieur Gateau
Donna DuPlantier...Blanche Devereux
Jacob Tolano..Martin Gateau
Ed Metzger...Teddy Roosevelt
David Jensen...Doctor at Benjamin's Birth
Joeanna Sayler...Caroline Button
Taraji P. Henson...Queenie
Fiona Hale...Mrs. Hollister
The DVD is available for £2.99 on Amazon and Play.com, "The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button" is a four part/trimester story about the making of the film, from its original concept to its making. The director is passionate about his story and even makes dry witty comments about Cate Blanchett's annoying, difficult to hear vocal on her deathbed, this is an interesting, insightful documentary that would be worth buying in its own right with interviews with all the lead actors and details of how the shots were shot and the music and story compiled, with references to the historic moments and acts enveloped into the story. This is definitely an extra I would recommend to anyone and makes this dvd tremendous value at £2.99.
Best Bit: The tender moments between Queeny and her 'baby'
Most Annoying Bit: Needing Subtitles to understand a lot of Cate Blanchett's elderly characters words.
Best Quote: Your life is defined by its opportunities... even the ones you miss.
Summary: We all end up in diapers.