F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story about a man who ages backwards is a charming depiction of a condemned life and a doomed love in the strangest of situations. The film details events from Button’s unusual life from his old birth-a baby with visible signs of cataracts and wrinkles- to his inevitable young death.
The tale, told by one of the most celebrated writers in American literature, is set in the razzle-dazzle era of New Orleans in the 1920s. The Curious Case truly captures the spirit of the lost city. It is a cordial eulogy, reminding us not only of the magic of the city, but also what it still is: A place of thrilling mystery that cannot be dampened by floods of water. The film takes us back to 2005 in the midst of Hurricane Katrina and flashes through time to illustrate the story of Benjamin Button, played by Brad Pitt.
It’s a very sweet film; very simple and sad, but sweet. Hollywood obviously embellishes the plot, as there are some notable differences between the movie and the original short story. Fitzgerald penned a comedy, a baby born an old man who could talk and quarrel in an outlandish fashion. There is no love interest. It is hardly the story of a harmless but hideous infant left abandoned on a doorstep. Button’s childhood friend and unrequited lover Daisy does not exist in literature as she is portrayed in the drama. But it makes for a good Hollywood movie.
Cate Blanchett, as Daisy, is dazzling as ever. She is truly one of the greatest actresses of our era. This is an actress who can play any role-from the glorious Katherine Hepburn to the iconic Bob Dylan. As Daisy, she is a delicate woman, worried about the inevitable consequences of loving a man who will mature into an infant. Blanchett brings a much desired elegance to the role with her standard air of conviction. The eminent loom of death makes Button calm and austere, willing to accept both life’s faults and fortunes with the same air of austerity. Pitt’s character acts very Forrest Gump-like in his odd role. His character is very pure and innocent which differs strongly from life’s base corruptions. Button experiences brothels, war, and rejection from society and love, but Pitt still maintains the same characteristic Southern, soft and warm voice. Of course, face makeup and digital re-imaging can do wonders. Button genuinely looks like a child with a septuagenarian face. He is believable, despite the illogicality of his circumstance. However, sometimes throughout the movie, I felt as though Button’s face was getting older instead of younger, but that might have just been Brad Pitt.
If anything, The Curious Case reflects on the necessity of old age. Button must outlive those he loves and cannot age with Daisy through her elderly years. It is rather disheartening to watch him die, after such a wonderful, long life. But it was predestined in the beginning. And death is nothing compared to life, even if it is a tragic one.
Keep watch for this movie. I surmise it will be an Academy Award contender.