Monday, December 29, 2008

The Magic of Benjamin Button

I thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button lives up to much of the hype. Since I whine a lot about movies that are inappropriately or inaccurately marketed, I suppose I should praise a movie that has sold itself for exactly what it is: the life of a man that is a unique story. Julia Ormond is sitting with her mother in a New Orleans hospital on the eve of Hurricane Katrina, and her mother asks her to read from a diary. What she reads is the life story of Benjamin, which includes a love story, but is not limited by it alone. Benjamin is born at the end of World War I, but is obviously different, looking like an old man with old man problems (cataracts, poor vision, loose skin, arthritis). His father abandons him on the steps, where Queenie finds him. Queenie (brilliant Taraji Henson) says that he's a child of god and they should look after him since the doctor doesn't think he'll live long anyway. Queenie manages an old folks home so as Benjamin gains years, but becomes younger, he fits in really well with the residents. They teach him things, change his life and help him deal with the comings and goings of death. He says a few times through the movie that "Nothing lasts" which sort of becomes the theme of the movie, but a better catch line might be "youth is wasted on the young". We also watch Daisy (the elder played by Cate Blanchett) age from 6 year old child visiting her grandmother and befriending Benjamin to a careless 20-something dancer who doesn't know what to do with herself when she gets older. As the ads show, they do find themselves "meeting in the middle", but Benjamin does meet lots of others along the way, and if I may, Brad Pitt is gorgeous as he "youthens" (gets younger).

It's a beautifully shot movie that absorbs the pace of New Orleans from the 30s and which becomes Benjamin's pace of life. It's slower paced, but not slow. It seemed to me a story of magic of a single person living an every day life. Whatever magic touched him and created him the way he is makes him special and able to share some of that magic with others. I didn't love the very end, but I don't know they could have found a better way - you decide. Right now I do think it deserves an Oscar nomination for best picture and for Brad Pitt, but I still haven't seen many of the other acclaimed movies, so I'll reserve judgement on the best picture for a few more weeks. 4.5 Lambs/Stars.


Rachel said...

I'd love to see this, but clocking in at almost 3 hours (I think) I just don't think my back can take the movie theater chairs for that long. I'll have to either load up on pain killers and give it a go or just wait for the dvd. *Sigh*

Jess said...

Rachel, I know you've got a bit of extra pressure - I assume the bathroom breaks might break the rhythm too. Maybe find the most luxurious cinema even if you have to drive a ways. Bring a pillow for your back. I'm a terrible movie fidgetter, but I barely noticed it during this.