FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Based on the story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” has been transformed by director David Fincher from a novella to an epic. By fleshing out Fitzgerald’s brisk tale of a man who ages backwards, he makes “Button” breathe again.
Spanning the course of nearly a century, Brad Pitt plays Benjamin Button, a child born with all of the deteriorations of a man in his eighties. Discarded by his father into the loving arms of Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), an owner of an early form of a nursing home, Benjamin ages backwards but, by doing so, is able to learn the important lessons of life both backwards and forwards.
Written by: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton
Seen at: Showcase Cinema De Lux at Patriot Place
Running time: 159 mins
He meets Daisy (who grows up to be Cate Blanchett) when she was just 7 years old. They age together and yet separately, when he starts his life on a tugboat sailing out of New Orleans when he is just about age 16. Daisy, who he always views as the love of his life, lives a very different life in New York City as a dancer.
Benjamin seems to live many different lives over the course of the movie. But, with the film stretching close to three hours long, it takes a while to get past the preliminary portion of the film and into its heart – the relationship between Daisy and Benjamin.
Pitt plays Benjamin from about age seven to age 70 by using advanced CGI-techniques. “Button” was clearly created to be more of a fairy tale than a real story, but because of the aging backwards process, the CGI makes it hard to tell just how old Benjamin is supposed to be. Audience members uncomfortably questioned whether it was proper for Benjamin to have his first woman before realizing he was not around age 10 like they thought and was closer to age 16.
The fairy tale aspect of the film takes away from its message a bit. “Button” loses itself in its length, caught between telling a story and relaying a moral. Ultimately, “Button” was trying to explain that it is never too late to start your life over – a theme created for the film. There wasn’t enough to the film to justify its length.
Overall, “Button” was a good film. Pitt and Blanchett deliver beautiful performances as usual, and Fincher put together a wonderful piece of art. But “Button” begins to feel like a chore to watch once it gets into its second hour and thus losing the power a more concise film would have had.