The Curious Case of Forrest Gump…err…Benjamin Button

A man, both simple and simplistic, moves through time and the world, touching those he comes in contact with without seeming to be touched by them.  He meets a girl in his youth, loses her to a world he is not a part of, but eventually wins her when she tires of that world, only to lose her again but he is left with a greater legacy.  How I loved…Forrest Gump?  Yes, but also The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.  From a script written by the same scribe as Gump, Eric Roth, Oscar-winning Benjamin Button is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and directed by someone I greatly admire whose work I don’t always like, David Fincher.  Seven may be my favorite crime thriller and I think that although flawed, The Game is a minor masterpiece.  Even Panic Room and his ‘kitchen sink’ movie (as in he throws in everything but), Fight Club, though inferior still are a joy to watch, if only once.  Always overly ambitious but still a fabulous visual storyteller, Fincher tries to fashion his greatest masterpiece, an epic about a man with a strange malady, he is born old and grows younger through time.  Benjamin is abandoned at birth but found and raised by a loving black woman (Taraji Henson) who works at then appears to run an ‘old folks home’, where he seems to fit in just fine, thank you very much.  He becomes a seaman and sees the world, experiencing history as it unfolds, always naive regardless of the breadth of his experience, once again mirroring that lovable simpleton, Gump.  The woman he pines for is Daisy, luminously played by Cate Blanchett.  In fact, every supporting role is so well written and played that it only serves to point out the hollowness of Pitt’s character.  Although he is in virtually every scene of the movie, there is no real arc to his character, no change at all really, as if he is just too flummoxed by the bizarreness of his life that he simply cannot grow as a person.  At least Forrest Gump grew, albeit in small ways, from his experiences.  By the time the movie finishes its almost two and a half hour run, you don’t really know anymore about what makes Button tick then you did at the beginning.  But surrounded by such rich set pieces as Button’s romancing a diplomat’s wife in a Russia that is imploding or a terrifically thrilling stint fighting on the seas during World War II, it is easy to forget and almost forgive this minor quibble.  So, by all means, see it for the superb supporting characterizations and often startling visuals but don’t expect a lot from Benjamin Button himself, especially for him to start yelling, ” Jenny!”.  After all, her name in this movie is Daisy.

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