Sasha Stone, Mirror Media Critic
Meeting at opposites ends of life’s imposed timeline, Daisy and Benjamin nonetheless find love in David Fincher’s exquisite The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The film is a sad lament, a valentine to those of us for whom life has added up to a lot of heartache and a lot of missed opportunities, but has also led to a string of friendships and influences that have made it all worthwhile.
It is a film that is easy to feel removed from; no one really wants to listen to the messages that writer Eric Roth and director Fincher are delivering. It is really for those who don’t feel the secure arms of religion, and for whom life’s questions have mostly been answered. The end result? Enjoy your brief but dazzling time on Earth, because it is all you have.
Brad Pitt, in his most realized and moving performance to date, plays the titular character who is born old and ages backwards, yes, all the way to infancy. Life for him is about being looked down upon in his innocent, younger years and when he starts growing younger and looking more like, well, Brad Pitt, those he loves are dropping like flies.
Early on, when he looks like an old man but is really just a boy, he meets Daisy (a magnificent Cate Blanchett), the love of his life, and the two are drawn together like magnets – would this story have it any other way? 2008 delivered some passionately fated love stories, including Wall-E and Eve in Wall-E, Latika and Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire, and this film falls right in line with the trend. Daisy, though, has no choice but to go on with her life, and Benjamin has to go where people will accept him as he is.
Only in this film’s universe would it be an unfortunate thing to be Brad Pitt in the prime of his life because it lasts a mere moment, and very soon after he’s becoming a young man and is lost again in youth. As he gets younger, his mind gets older and there is nothing ideal about it. Funny, isn’t it, as we all sort of long for our lost youth, and maybe even yearn to be young of body but old of mind. Nature designed it the way it is for a reason; wisdom helps us to detach from the passionate indecision of spirited youth.
There aren’t many films released this year that pack the same emotional punch as Benjamin Button. Pitt and Blanchett move like dancers together throughout the film – whether one has to be old and the other young, but especially when they have the lovely opportunity to share the same time of life together, meeting in the middle, before it all fades away again.
A technical, digital marvel, under the exacting eye of Fincher, Benjamin Button is a visual feast, a full and complex experience that doesn’t need any dumbing down. Of course, there will be comparisons to Forrest Gump, the Oscar-winning film Roth also wrote. But Gump was about America, really. Button is about the importance of other people in our lives, and the importance of living right smack in the middle of the moment – sitting around waiting for life to begin is a waste of time and everything else.