A thrilling adventure and captivating story of one man’s unusual and enchanted life, director David Fincher’s Academy Award -winning film THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON debuts as a two-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray on May 5, 2009 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Called “a monumental achievement” that “must be experienced” (Rex Reed, New York Observer), the film stars Academy Award nominee Brad Pitt who “does his best work ever” (Lou Lumenick, New York Post) and Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett who “is simply dazzling” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal) in an exhilarating adventure that takes viewers on a breathtaking journey filled with romance and redemption. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards and winner for Best Visual Effects, Art Direction and Makeup, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON also stars Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow), Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) and Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall)) in a grand tale of a not-so-ordinary man and the people and places he discovers along the way, the loves he finds, the joys and romance of life and what lasts beyond time.
To say that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a vast overstatement. The film hardly resembles its original source, even down to how Benjamin’s aging process is handled. Now, don’t assume I’m a fan of Fitzgerald; I’m not. In fact, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is only the second story of his that I’ve read, and only because Librivox.org happened to release a recording of the story around the time the film came to theaters. From the previews and the knowledge that it was just a short story, I knew the film version would be different. Having been burned by stories made into films before (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the Hellboy films come to mind), I went into viewing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with no adaptive expectations, which served me well. There’s nothing of the source work that I can find in the film, but I had no problem with the changes and additions made to the story. The movie was a fantastic piece by itself, creating a world unlike Fitzgerald’s, but uniquely its own.
Beginning at the end of World War I, the story spans almost nine decades, chronicling the life of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) from when he is born as a tiny baby riddled with old age until he leaves the world as a young infant with the mind of an old man. Through the years, he meets a large cast of characters, most seeming to help him grow up, even as his face grows younger. Then there’s Daisy (Cate Blanchett), the woman whose life constantly intertwines with his, and who he’s fated to love no matter what the distance is between them. The years of his life may be backwards, but Benjamin is still able to enjoy them.
I thought the cast of the movie was brilliant, and was delighted to see some unexpected faces like Elle Fanning and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali of The 4400 TV series. Brad Pitt was truly the star of the show, though, and I enjoyed each minute he was on screen (or could that just be because he’s Brad Pitt? Quite possibly). I’ve heard Brad was boring in the film, but to me, he was acting the way the character was written. Benjamin doesn’t strike me as the world’s most energized and enthusiastic character (after all, we do see him physically in the later years of life through most of the movie), so I felt the job he did was accurate.
I always like to take into account the technical aspects of a film, and those for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button were quite beautiful. I loved the warmth of the lighting and some of the cinematography was just wonderful. The special effects and makeup, of course, were certainly worth the Oscar they received. An avid lover of film soundtracks, I had listened to Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score before seeing the film. This always makes the music stand out for me while watching, which I think really adds to the watching experience. The music is lovely and reflects the dreamy, fantastical world of Benjamin Button.
I thought the movie was excellent, certainly one I’d recommend for others; just make sure you’ve got about three hours to watch. As I said before, if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation, look elsewhere. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a movie more inspired by its source than being a short story transferred into a screenplay.
Review by Jessica Mahn