Benjamin is aging backwards and reveals the beguiling looks of Brad Pitt. Meanwhile he meets his contemporary Daisy, who rightfully looks like a little girl. The couple pair up when they are both young adults, but as Daisy (Cate Blanchett) ages, Benjamin gets younger – how can their family resist? Years later, an old Daisy has her daughter Caroline reading the diary of Benjamin Button. Outside, hurricane Katrina is getting closer.
The curious case of this film is that it was proposed to the likes of Steven Spielberg and Spike Jonze (but not the one who would have probably made the best of it: Tim Burton) and passed from hand to hand before Paramount and Warner could hand the burden to David Fincher – a curious choice, given Fincher’s penchant for much darker and adventurous stories. In fact the subject, taken from a short story by F.Scott Fitzgerald, could have been handled in a much more courageous way: played with themes like paedophilia, gerontophilia, or the chasm between body and mind. What we have instead is a sort of Forrest Gump-like, three hours dragging slob of a movie that is filled up with script holes and is unbelievably boring.
To start with, the origins of Benjamin’s anomaly are never clear, although there are hints to a clock that was designed to work backwards. The portrayal of his childhood is dull and uninspiring. Then, as the ancient child grows younger, there is never a doctor or a photographer is in sight. So this case mustn’t have raised much curiosity. The story goes on and the script, unable to provide interesting adventures for the hero, relies completely on the acting of the supporting cast.
But the psychological side in Benjamin’s life is bypassed and what remains is the regret that this potentially amazing story wasn’t better told. Does the script possibly follow Benjamin’s method of storytelling? No. Does it evaporate as his memory does too? No. This is a case bad writing, in the hands of an otherwise genial director.
The only redeeming feature of it is the imagery in the central part of the film and the long montage of Pitt and Blanchett in their house: the cheesiest sequence so far this year, but undeniably a strong aesthetic pleasure. The two actors in their physical prime form such a delightful show that you don’t want it to end. It does not rise up to the category of "doomed love", but some members of the audience will find it worth the price of the ticket.