The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My name is Forrest... Forrest Button. Sorry. I meant Benjamin Gump. Doh. No I didn't. I meant Benjamin Button. Obviously. How could I possibly confuse the two?

Well, given the Deep Sayouth voiceover, the engagingly odd lead character, the stuttering romance with a beautiful love interest first met in childhood, the adoration of the mother, the befriending of an unusual black character, the wartime heroics, the love of boats and the constant homely advice, very easily indeed.

While a deep similarity to an Oscar winning favourite isn't necessarily a problem, the faults with Benjamin Button don't end there. Many have argued that Fincher's is the darker, more intriguing tale and that he's definitely upped the ante in terms of ageing — and “youth-ing” — effects work. They probably have a point but to what end? This is an overblown schmaltz-fest that takes its genuinely intriguing central premise — what would happen if a character was born old and got younger as life progressed — and leaves it mostly unexplored, even as the clock ticks ever closer to the three hour mark. All of that and the use of Hurricane Katrina as an emotional shortcut to show how those poor wealthy white folk suffered in New Orleans? Jesus. Painfully inaccurate and too soon, chaps. WAY too soon.

As mentioned above, Benjamin Button's curious case is a life lived in reverse. Born as an infant in a baby-sized old man's body, Benjamin is rejected by his father and dumped on the doorstep of a local old folk's home, where he's adopted by Queenie (Henson) and raised as her own. As Benjamin gets older, however, his body gets younger. This causes some interesting issues with the love of his life Daisy (Blanchett) the granddaughter of another resident, as it will be some 40 years before their lives and ages can intersect properly.

And there you have the sum total of this film's intrigue. A romance that’s doomed from the start yet still takes over two hours to get to the interesting bit. Just be thankful then that it’s based on a F Scott Fitzgerald short story rather than a novel.

It’s a shame that Fincher doesn’t know when to cut or edit his excesses as this tedious movie unfolds, because it detracts from two great performances from Pitt and, particularly, the radiant Blanchett, who looks like an old style movie star and is as convincing at 20 as she is 80. She deserves much better than this half-arsed ramble.

Official Site
The Curious Case of Banjamin Button at IMDb

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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