"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Director David Fincher and co-writers Eric Roth and Robin Swicord might well have followed Mr. Fitzgerald's lead and made their movie shorter, because the film's running time is nearly 3 hours. And that is really a long time to expect an audience to sit still...at least for this particular film, with its straightforward premise: A child is born as a very old man. The story progresses and the man progresses to lose a year every year. He grows younger with time. That's the magic which makes this enchanting tale unique...and, well, magical. (but still too long!!)
Initially, a blind man is commissioned to create a clock to hang in New Orleans' train station. Embittered by news of his son's death in WWI, and by all deaths in all wars, he creates a clock which runs backwards, so that the young lives lost might be restored.
Meanwhile, Daisy, an elderly women, (Kate Blanchett, made-up to look old and ugly...is this possible?), is on her deathbed in a New Orleans' hospital. As Hurricane Katrina rages outside her window, she asks her daughter, (Julia Ormond), to read from a secret diary. Through her diary, the dying woman tells the story of one Benjamin Button and how his life intersected with her's.
While a New Orleans' crowd celebrates the end of WWI, a young mother dies giving birth to a son. When the infant's father sees him for the first time, his misery at the loss of his wife is overshadowed by his horror as he glimpses his child. The baby boy looks like a monster. In fact, the tiny infant has the wizened face and body of a man in his late eighties. Mr. Button, the Dad, leaves his son on the steps of an old-age home where Queenie, (Taraji P. Hensen) and Tizzy (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a couple who work at the home, take in the boy child and make him their own. They name him Benjamin.
Imagine their surprise when the aged baby begins to grow younger. Eventually, he is able to transport himself by wheelchair, then he walks with a cane, then upright with no assistance, until he is actually able to walk quickly on his own two feet. Remember the riddle, "What has 4 legs in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and 3 in the evening?" Well, this is the riddle reversed. When Benjamin reaches his 70's, more or less, he meets a little girl named Daisy, whose grandmother lives at the home. The two immediately feel a sense of affinity and play happily together, in spite of the enormous difference in their ages. They are best friends, sharing secrets and listening as Daisy's grandmother reads to them.
While Benjamin's age decreases, his adventures increase. And Daisy grows older. Benjamin goes to sea and Daisy becomes a successful ballerina. They meet in New York, but Benjamin is still too old for her, in a romantic sense. One feels a sense of poignancy and wistfulness as the now middle-aged man watches her go off with someone younger. I take out my tissues for the first time at this point, and don't put them away.
Eventually Benjamin and Daisy catch up to each other in time...but you must see the film to find out what happens as they fall in love, and then fall away from each other as they continue to age on dissimilar paths.
I think this film belongs to Daisy/Blanchette, rather than to charismatic Brad Pitt, who does turn out a compelling performance. Daisy is the one who truly has growing pains - who struggles with her lack of worldly experience and develops as a character. Benjamin is born with the wisdom and tranquility that come with age and he appears somewhat detached as his life unfolds.
Although the make-up artistry and technical effects are exceptional, the storyline and the changing faces of the actors is what enthralls. The themes of the passage of time and of inevitable loss are quite moving and powerful.
So, I would suggest that you definitely see the film as, ultimately, it is well worth the disadvantage of its length. Once again, a matter of time.