Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Seeing that this film has as its premise a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I was both enthusiastic and doubtful. For one, it seemed a brilliant magic realist plot: a boy, more resembling an old man, is born, and ages backwards with time. After all, the best magic realism is simple at heart (an adult man spontaneously growing wings, another the most intelligent being possible). The problem with magic realism is that it is absolutely impossible to transfer onto film successfully. Perhaps the most succesful to date was Pan's Labyrinth, but even that story was more fantastical than realist. Giving it a moving picture denies it of a certain spark that could only be reached via short story (and there's another reason that magic realism is mostly in short story, as opposed to novel, form). Thus, a beautiful and moving premise is rid of its magic and becomes another uninteresting Hollywood tearjerker. Brad Pitt, however, is brilliant as Benjamin Button, and Cate Blanchett sparkles as his love interest Daisy, only momentarily the same age. There are great things in this movie... the acting superb, the mise-en-scene breathless (pause this movie at any point and it's straight out of a National Geographic photograph). But with the same writer as Forrest Gump, some things are bound to get cliche (even when it worked seamlessly in the early '90s). Plus, the music is uninteresting, and makes you wonder why John Williams didn't attempt to work his big-budget movie magic here. Thus, Benjamin Button becomes a standard tearjerker, much longer than necessary, building up to a Hollywood climax that never occurs-- an expensive and opulent disappointment. Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit, and surely the film is better than many. It only fails because of how earnestly it attempted greatness; it might, at the very least, be worth a view.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

really now. i shall watch the film and then reread your entry.

of course though i am a pessimist i tend to be extremely forgiving toward films and other forms of entertainment so long as they don't completely suck.