FILMREVIEW: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Newsroom 02/03/2009 | 16:14

Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton
On at: : Hollywood Multiplex, Movieplex, Studio, The Light

A framing device starts the story in a New Orleans hospital, in 2005. As Hurricane Katrina bears down on the city, a terminally ill elderly woman asks her daughter (Julia Ormond) to read aloud from an old diary, belonging to Benjamin (Brad Pitt). We learn that after his mother dies in childbirth, Benjamin's hideous appearance drives his grieving father to abandon him on the steps of an old people's home, where he is found by a kindly, African-American member of staff, Queenie (Taraji P Henson), who raises him as her own. It is here that Benjamin, now 12 but looking more like 70, meets the granddaughter of one of the residents, Daisy (Cate Blanchett in adult form), who, it transpires, is the woman dying in hospital.
The film will ultimately become their love story, but the ickiness of any hint of attraction between a pensioner and a seven-year-old girl postpones that part. Initially, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is more of a coming of age (coming of youth?) tale, which sees Benjamin go out to work, get drunk and have sex for the first time, all in the incongruous form of an old man. Benjamin's adventures take him to sea and to war before he and Daisy, now a slightly self-absorbed, bohemian ballet dancer in New York, re-enter each other's lives.
It's very easy to be cynical about this movie. Aside from the obvious irony of anyone looking at Brad Pitt – at whatever age – and being repulsed by his ugliness, charges of excessive sentiment, Hollywood clich

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