There are certain films that you know are made for awards ceremonies. Sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button certainly comes across as one of those types of films. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But watching them, you know exactly the type of audience the film is made for. David Fincher takes a different direction than the dark thrillers he’s known for by directing Benjamin Button. But will the unknown territory work against Fincher’s style.
Benjamin Button is a baby born on the night World War I ends. His mother dies in birth and his father, a rich factory owner is horrified when he sets eyes on his baby son. Benjamin is born with a condition that causes him to age backwards. He is born an old man and gets younger as he gets older. Benjamin ends up living in an old folk’s home, where he simply appears to be one of the people staying there. But as he gets older, and his faculties return, Benjamin wants to get out and see the world. Despite his love for a young girl, the granddaughter of one of the old folks, Benjamin must see the world. And so he sets off, unsure where his travels will take him.
A lot has been made of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button being very similar to Forrest Gump. And in ways, they are quite similar. They both feature protagonists who are unique in the world. They both long to go out and see different things. They are both in love with an unattainable girl. So, yeah, I’ll admit it could be argued that they’re practically the same movie. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to Benjamin Button. Despite all the similarities, Benjamin Button’s still a very entertaining film to watch.
Firstly, it looks amazing. Fincher’s one of the great directors working today. Working with cinematographer, Claudio Miranda, Fincher creates a film steeped in detail and gorgeous colours. Aside from the special effects, which I’ll get to in a moment, the quality of the production is second to none. 1920s New Orleans looks amazing. Russia feels cold and sharp. And the golden era of 1950s America is suitably golden. And the special effects themselves are fantastic. The old (or is it young) Benjamin Button really looks as if they somehow aged and shrunk Brad Pitt. The only thing that still remains elusive when it comes to creating CGI people is they eyes. No matter how expensive and professional the CGI, they still can’t get human eyes right. There’s just something empty about them. I guess the eyes really are the windows to the soul!
Pitt’s performance is good enough for the role. The thing about Button is, he seems to be an observer in his own world, rather than somebody who drives events. When it came to Forrest Gump, while Gump was observing the things he witnessed, he did have a significant role to play in the events. Button seems to be drifting from event to event and allowing things to happen to him. And this reflects in Pitt’s performance. He just seems to be observing and isn’t required to do very much. Cate Blanchett plays Daisy, the object of Button’s affections. While the character does come off as a bit of a bitch, Blanchett plays her very well. The rest of the characters are played by some very good character actors, including Elias Koteas, Jared Harris and Jason Flemyng and are all very good in their roles.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’s not as memorable as Forrest Gump. Nor is it really deserving of the 13 Oscar nominations it’s received. I’m sure it’ll win a good few, but it’s in no way the film of 2008. It’s entertaining, and inoffensive, but it’s not going to set the world on fire. Fincher’s direction is rock solid. It looks amazing, and the performances are good, if not the best we’ve seen the actors deliver. And it should be seen on the big screen. But as I said at the start, some films are made to get awards. This is one of them.