The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Director: David Fincher
A magical and moving account of a man living his life resoundingly in reverse, very loosely based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short tale from 1922, it delivers top-notch moviemaking in every department. Most impressive of all is the digital breakthrough that allows Brad Pitt to age so convincingly from very old to very young, placing his face upon the forms of stand-in actors.
Nominated for multiple Oscars, include best picture and best director for David Fincher (Zodiac), the film tells the story of a baby, Benjamin, that is born in 1918 looking like a tiny old man.
The child is so alarmingly different, his father abandons him on the doorstep of a seniors’ residence, where kindly Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), takes him in. It gradually dawns on Queenie that Benjamin is aging backwards.
As the years pass, a beautiful redheaded dancer named Daisy (Cate Blanchett) enters his life, and the two recognize that they are kindred spirits.
Daisy’s dancing takes her to New York, Paris and back to New Orleans, following a timeline where her natural aging eventually intersects with Benjamin’s unnatural youthfulness, with attendant complications of both heart and mind.
There is no abiding message. Just the wistful observation that life has a way of taking its own path, sometimes a backwards one, and we do have choices in how we travel it.
The bountiful extras, depending on which edition you purchase (there’s also a Criterion Special Edition), fully explore the film’s groundbreaking special effects.
There’s information on the “digital makeup” used, the thousands of costumes and the creation of an animatronic baby. Fincher provides a director’s commentary.