The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2008movies_benjaminbutton

Rated PG13

Heidi’s Illustrious Rating: 3.75

Word of Warning: Some war scenes and tame sexual situations.

 

After watching months of previews for this movie, I had had enough of the storyline and when it finally arrived in theaters I didn’t go to see it right away. However, when I finally decided to see “Benjamin Button,” the story had me captivated from beginning to end. As I walked out of the theater I didn’t even realize the movie’s running time had been nearly three hours.

 

The movie is loosely based on a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1921. Brad Pitt plays Benjamin, a man who is born in his eighties and as his life progresses he becomes younger and younger.

 

Cate Blanchett plays Benjamin’s love interest, Daisy, and the movie opens with her nearing death in a New Orleans hospital. With Hurricane Katrina bearing down on the city, Daisy asked her daughter to read aloud an old dairy. It is the dairy of Benjamin Button, born in 1918.

 

Tthe diary tells of the journey of Benjamin Button’s unconventional life. Having been abandoned by his father, Benjamin is raised by a black woman whom, ironically, runs a home for the elderly.

 

At times the movie is reminiscent of “Forest Gump,” because of Benjamin’s adventures and seemingly sweet and oblivious nature. Pitt was well cast as the loveable Benjamin, but it is Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the spirited Daisy, that really shines in this movie.

 

The skillful use of sound effects and soundtrack set a sort of ethereal ambiance in “Benjamin Button,” transporting the audience to another world, where the impossible storyline seems plausible.

 

Throughout the movie, the scene returns to the hospital room where Daisy lays dying and Hurricane Katrina is looming. In my opinion, writing Hurricane Katrina into the script was the only mistake in this otherwise good movie. What were the writers and the director trying to say?

 

According to my research, the movie was set in New Orleans to take advantage of production incentives and apparently there is no philosophical or allegorical connection between the events of Hurricane Katrina and the storyline. But in the present atmosphere of Hollywood continually working to make statements through their films, I doubt I’m the only one who tried to find some deeper meaning in the addition of Katrina to this script.

 

In conclusion, “Benjamin Button” is a very good movie, complete with colorful characters and beautiful filming. I don’t think it will have the staying power or cultural impact of “Forest Gump,” but it’s a fun and absorbing story that’s definitely worth seeing in the theater.

 

 

***Also appearing in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.

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