Classic Intel: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Blu-ray Review

The times it is easiest to forgive a film for going over the two hour mark are the times when the film in question is dealing with a whole life. Whether a fictional drama or a true-to-life biography, ignoring Hitchcock's rule of linking film length to human bladder endurance can be most readily forgiven when we have to go from somewhere around birth to somewhere around death or, in many ways when you think of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, the reverse.

It also helps when the film is as compelling as David Fincher's 2008 Oscar winner. I've watched it twice now (that's three-hundred and thirty-two minutes in total, fact fans) and not once did I notice I was in the company of a longer-than-average film. Its sweeping narrative, similar in tone, if not in style or subject to 2003's Big Fish, gently lilts away, under the narration by Benjamin himself (Brad Pitt). The whole thing creates an atmosphere not dissimilar to The Shawshank Redemption. There's something Earthy and relaxing about listening to Red (Morgan Freeman) tell you a story. It's the same feeling here as Pitt gently guides us from self-discovery to heartbreak, redemption to tragedy.

The period of the piece and the distinct colours achieved by director of photography Claudio Miranda help matters immensely. To compare it to another life story, Schindler's List, Fincher has clearly thought long and hard about how things should look and then set about giving them their own unique visages. Look how the opening scenes are composed of mainly fusty browns and yellows, moving to splashes of more modern brashness later on; think Daisy's (Cate Blanchett) red dress or the few New York scenes where the insinuation is clearly made that the Big Apple is colour chaos, whilst New Orleans has neat order to spare.

The order of New Orleans is, of course, disrupted severely by the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, a framing device which litters the story as Daisy tells it to us on her death bed. The relationship is tenuous though. If the coming of Katrina is meant to represent the final destruction of the world Benjamin and Daisy inhabited for a time then Fincher fails to make it clear. The film ends leaving the viewer with the distinct feeling that Katrina hasn't offered much to the narrative and its inclusion here is risky at best, severely misjudged at worst.

There is though, thankfully, a much more satisfying through story than the constant dips back into Daisy's hospital room. Benjamin Button is ultimately a story about timeliness and timelessness. The romance it views the 'old' world with is justified through the simple fact that, to Benjamin, our narrator, this is actually a 'new' world. Benjamin and Daisy's union happens 'when the time is right', when one has learnt enough about love despite his old appearance and the other despite her youthfulness. It is a film about things happening at the right times, despite what they look like and, although it ends with Katrina sweeping in in one narrative and on a bittersweet note in the other, it is joyous for the entirety of its runtime, long though it might be.

Look further...

'Brad Pitt ages backwards while the audience simply ages. This epic lifelong tale follows in the footsteps of Forrest Gump and Big Fish but has the curiosity of neither' - Top10Films, 2/5


  1. Interesting review. Didn't manage to catch this at the cinema but now I'm tempted to give it a try. Loved Big Fish.

    1. Definitely worth at least a go if you ask me. Sucked be in, on both occasions, within the fist fifteen minutes.