The Curious Effect of Benjamin Button

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Two years after The Curious Case of Benjamin Button garnered thirteen nominations at the Oscars, I got the chance to see it when it premiered on Star Movies on 18 July at eight pm. I pressed the ‘i’ button on the Tata Sky remote and discovered to my great shock that the movie was scheduled to end at eleven-thirty pm! It almost sent me scurrying to Wikipedia to check if it was directed by Peter Jackson, whose well-known penchant for epic-length movies extended beyond LOTR to King Kong as well.

Nevertheless, I braced myself for the onslaught. I wrapped up my household chores early, fed my daughter her dinner, and plonked down in front of the TV at eight pm sharp.

The next three hours unravelled, at a leisurely pace, the journey of a man who grows younger each day. This reverse aging presents several problems. His father no more than sets eyes on him before rushing out to discard him, in a piece of delicious irony, on the steps of a nursing home. A black woman, barren at that time, takes him in and showers much love and affection on him.

Benjamin’s journey as he goes to work on a tugboat, indulges in a fling with a married elegant lady (I congratulated myself on  recognizing Tilda Swindon immediately!)

I believe the movie, and indeed the short story it is based on, focus on life and death as a theme. Cate Blanchett’s frustration as she ages but Brad becomes more youthful is well-captured. She is brilliant in her role, as is Taraji Henson, who acts as his mother.

Brad Pitt does well, but I think his movie star personality still shines through his character somewhat.

Overall, though, for some reason this movie dissolved me in tears. The last few scenes when Benjamin turns into a toddler, then an infant and dies in her arms are very touching. I don’t think I will see it again in the near future, but maybe a few months down the line I wouldn’t mind a repeat watch.

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