Thursday, January 08, 2009

Film Review: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

.:Film Review:The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button:.

"Curious"? Try "bizarre".

To say that "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" is quite a strange movie is an understatement. While it shares many key similarities to Forrest Gump (Feather = Hummingbird. Box Of Chocolates = You Never Know What's Coming To Get You. Daisy = Jenny. Long-@$$ Movie = Long-@$$ Movie. Etc.), this film does stand on its own merits, apart from such comparisons, and the short story it was very loosely based on.

The movie follows the life story of the eponymous Benjamin Button, played by Brad Pitt, albeit relayed mostly in flashback via the interaction between Daisy, played by Cate Blanchett, and her daughter, Caroline. The story is preceded by a tale of a blind clockmaker who made a clock that went backwards to ease his pain over his son's death in the war, which set the tone for the very unique life bestowed upon Benjamin, who was born after the first world war, and abandoned by his father when his mother died in childbirth.

Benjamin was a curious little child, in that he looked nothing like a child. If anything, he looked like a very old man, and as he grew older, it was becoming clear that he was physically getting younger. As he goes on in life, he meets various people in the nursing home, including Daisy, whom he ends up falling for, at some point. They find themselves in a curious arrangement, as neither of them are quite ever at the same point of their lives with the other except for a brief spell, and as such, their relationship simply wasn't meant to be.

He traveled around the world, initially as a seaman. He forges relationships with various people in his travels, and it becomes quite clear that while Benjamin grows younger physically, he still grows older mentally. This explains why he is surprisingly mature despite looking incredibly young, and so forth. He also gets to know his father later on in his life, and he ends up becoming rich when his father left him everything.

After being mired in an on-again, off-again storm with Daisy, he goes his own way after one last tryst with her. He ends up returning to the nursery as a teenager with dementia, clearly mentally degrading while physically growing younger. Daisy, already in her 70's or 80's, ends up caring for Benjamin until he dies as a baby, looking at her with recognition one last time before breathing his last.

In a way, this very long and convoluted story does make one think about the human condition: while Benjamin was by no means immortal, it certainly proved jarring for him to keep growing younger while the people around him grow older. It was a very unique experience that none of us can claim to understand fully, but it certainly leads us to consider what it could mean to us and how we sometimes take life for granted despite the fact that unlike Benjamin, we don't get any younger, either.

The movie may have turned the original "curious case" into more of a love story than anything else, but the film, as mentioned, has its own strengths, as we do think of what it means to live a full life. Benjamin may have been getting younger and younger, but you can see that he did what he can to live life to the fullest, finding himself traveling around the world, finding sights and sounds with passion and vigor, as his youthful spirit never left him until what appeared to be Alzheimer's and dementia set in upon him.

This movie is a plaintive for us to live life to the fullest while we can. If one who grows younger rather than older simply realizes that there is much more to life than he can possibly fathom, then what more for us mere mortals who do grow older and older? Perhaps you're gaining weight unexpectedly, as you keep on slaving away in front of your desk at work. Perhaps you're discontent with what you're doing in your life. Any which way it is, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is a testimony to how fleeting life truly is, and how the perfect moment is something one can only hope to capture for a while, but never forever.

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