The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the first film on my list that fits into one of my favorite unofficial sub-genres of film, what I call a “meet ‘em and move on” movie. Such a film follows a single character through life (or a microcosm of it) as they interact with and learn from several different interesting people over time, usually ending with a satisfying wrap-up that may or may not include a recap of the various acquaintances encountered. They can be fanciful and weird like Big Fish or down-to-earth and slow like The Straight Story. I’ve included several such films higher on my list because they tend to touch me deeply (the two mentioned above are exceptions). This film has a number of the things I love about such movies: a unique way of framing the tale, a number of colorful characters made likable by quirks and familiarity, and a touching relationship at the heart of the film.
Benjamin Button is only #180 because it is a blend of elements I love and others I don’t. I was pulled in by the opening vignette about the clockmaker and young/old Benjamin’s adoption by the religious Queenie; then I was turned off by his introduction to a brothel. I enjoyed the listing of his shipmates at sea, not so much Daisy’s talk about her dance troupe “trusting” each other through sex. On the one hand, I loved Cate Blanchett’s performance, as well as Brad Pitt’s, but on the other, the truth is that Benjamin Button as a character is rather underdeveloped and flat. I admire several insightful lines and scenes, such as the build-up to Daisy’s accident. Yet Pitt doesn’t show much of a range of emotions, and my VC felt that Benjamin’s choice to leave Daisy and his daughter was selfish and unnecessary.
Many critics pointed out a number of similarities to another “meet ‘em and move on,” Forrest Gump.I suppose a main reason I like Forrest Gump as a character so much more than Benjamin Button is that Forrest is a better role model. Forrest loved Jenny unconditionally and stayed pure for her, even as she delved into depravity. Benjamin, meanwhile, was nonchalant about sex and had an affair with a married woman, as well as a number of one-night stands, never even marrying Daisy. Even his foster mother Queenie had nightly rendezvous with a close man, though Mrs. Gump wasn’t perfect in that regard either. Forrest took in everything that happened in his life with innocence and naiveté, while Benjamin accepted it all with dull worldliness.
Despite all these detractions and some profanity, the ending of the film is one of the best among “meet ‘em and move on” films. Nothing else in the movie even brought me close to tears, but seeing all the people he met one after another was such a great pay-off that ended the film in the best way possible. Overall, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an unusual love story that excels more in its details than in the big picture.
Best line: (Benjamin Button) “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”Artistry: 10 Characters/Actors: 8 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 10 Originality: 6 Watchability: 8 Other (language and aforementioned issues): -5 TOTAL: 44 out of 60
Next: #179 – The Hobbit
© 2014 S. G. Liput
155 Followers and Counting