Sunday, March 01, 2009

Benjamin Button - Better, not the best . .

Saw Benjamin Button at Satyam Cinemas on 28th Feb, Sat. I knew already about the film that it’s not the usual kind of a David Fincher film but it’s more like the Darabont way of filming. I read a few reviews and was eager to see it, and as soon as the film was released, booked a ticket and went to see it. It was an evening, and I was sporting a new haircut (‘Downspike’), and while in to the lobby, felt that I’m in line with the general mood set (Tee hee).

This is an abridged version of Scott Fitzgerald’s short story with the same name, written in 1921.

The film began.

We see an old lady in a hospital (Cate Blanchett, with a brilliant make up), at her last few minutes (hours, may be). She tells the story of a blind clockmaker who made a huge clock to be hung at the New Orleans railway station, and while he was making it, happens to lose his son at the world war I, and then decides to make the clock to tick backwards, as he believed that it will bring his son back to life, and the other victims of the world war. After the clock was hung at the railway station, he disappeared from public view. We see him sailing a boat in to the sea. That was the last of him.

After telling the story of the blind clockmaker, the old lady asks her daughter to read out a journal. The daughter starts to read it aloud for her dying mother.

The daughter’s voice slowly changes to that of a male. It’s a journal of a man named Benjamin Button. It begins in New Orleans at the end of the World War 1. We see a mother giving birth to a baby boy, and the father rushes in to see the mother, after being told that she is going to die. The father sees the child, and is terrorized, as the child has all the physical appearance of a very elderly man, with wrinkled skin and with cataract. The father keeps staring at the child, and suddenly, grabs it and runs away. He places the child at the entrance of an old age home.

The caretaker of the home picks up the child, and decides to keep him with her. She announces the arrival of this queer child to the members of the home, and there starts the story. Benjamin, the child starts to grow backwards. While during the birth, the child features the look and feel of a very old man, and from that day, starts growing backwards. Initially, the boy is not even able to walk, and moves in a wheelchair. The boy looks exactly like an old man, and is considered to be one, by many.

After a few years, Benjamin meets Daisy, the grand daughter of an old lady who comes to live at the home. They both develop a good friendship, and roam around.

Benjamin, now physically at his sixties (mentally, at his teen) goes to work in a ship, as a sweeper. He also meets a new person called Mr. Button, who comes to visit Benjamin one day (his father, who left him at the home). Mr. Button asks Benjamin that he will visit him at times, and Benjamin accepts. He develops a good friendship with the ship’s captain who takes him to bars and to women (The captain asks Benjamin, thinking that he is an old man, about any experiences with women, and Benjamin says no. The captain gets flabbergasted and takes him to women). They go to various places, with the ship. At every new place, Benjamin sends a postcard to daisy, as asked by her when he left for work.

Once, at Russia, Benjamin gets to meet a lady named Elizabeth. They both get attracted, and they spend every night at the hotel reception, and they talk till daybreak. She is already married, and slowly the friendship turns in to an affair. Benjamin writes about this to Daisy that he has fallen in Love with the lady. Suddenly, on the day the pearl harbor got attacked, Elizabeth disappears, leaving a note thanking him for everything.

Benjamin’s ship is requested by the US navy to join the World War 2, and after some travel, where Benjamin tells that even though they are in to the war, they didn’t see even a glimpse of it, spots a German submarine and engages in a battle. The boat gets severely damaged. At the end, Benjamin escapes death and returns home. While on his return, he sees a humming bird. It’s quite unnatural for humming birds to be seen at such heights (he is standing on the upper deck of a sailing ship), and it gives him a different perspective about life and death.

While at home, Mr. Button again meets Benjamin, and reveals the truth that he is Benjamin’s father. Mr. Button asks Benjamin to take care of all his properties. Benjamin’s immediate reaction is to go home to his foster mother, but eventually, he accepts his father’s will.

By this time, Daisy becomes a successful Ballet dancer. Benjamin meets Daisy and she wants to make love to him. Benjamin refuses, and Daisy leaves. Later, Benjamin learns that Daisy has fallen in love with a fellow dancer, and he decides that their lives have separated, from that instance.

Suddenly, one day Benjamin receives the news that Daisy has met with an accident at Rome and rushes to see her (The montage shown about why Daisy met with the accident is a very creative one). Daisy doesn’t want him there, and Benjamin stays for a few days at Rome. She also is very surprised at his youthful look (by this time, we get to see the original Brad Pitt. All the while, from the beginning, the reverse process of Benjamin getting younger is nicely shown). After a few years, Daisy returns to Benjamin.

They both start a life full of happiness, bubbling with youthfulness. They love each other truly, and they spend time together, with Daisy all the while realizing that Benjamin is growing younger day by day, while she is growing older.

Daisy eventually gives birth to a baby gal, Caroline. Benjamin tells Daisy that she can’t raise two kinds together, as he is growing younger day by day, and one day, sells all his properties, leaves everything to Daisy and Caroline, and slowly walks out of Daisy’s life, altogether.

He goes to various places, and sends greetings to Caroline during every one of her birthdays. One day, when Caroline is 12, Benjamin meets Daisy in her dancing school. He looks absolutely young by this time, like a teenage boy ( I was reminded of Varanam Aayiram schoolboy Surya. They both have worked hard supported with a stunning Make up!). Daisy introduces Caroline and her husband to Benjamin, and tells them Benjamin is an old relative. That night, Daisy meets Benjamin in the hotel, and makes love. Daisy and Benjamin realize that soon, Benjamin is going to turn so young.

Benjamin again disappears. Daisy gets a phone call from her friends one day that they have found a boy named Benjamin, who likes to play piano (It was taught to him by Daisy’s grand ma) and who is always in a state of confusion, and is not able to connect with people. She meets a very young boy there, realizing that Benjamin just has a few more years. From that day, Daisy visits him frequently, taking good care. Benjamin had lost his memories, and he just sees Daisy as yet another old woman.

One fine day, the clock at the railway Station which was ticking backwards, is removed. Immediately, we see Benjamin, now a baby, at Daisy’s lap, slowly closing his eyes. He dies peacefully.

Back at the hospital, while the hurricane Katrina thundering down outside, Caroline leaves her mother’s room for a smoke. At this time, a humming bird flatters it’s wings at the window, and Daisy sees this. She closes her eyes slowly, and dies. We are shown a room, where the backward running clock is kept in a box, still ticking. Slowly, water floods the room and raises to the brim of the box, as the clock still keeps ticking. The movie ends.

Well, this is all about Benjamin Button. The movie is nicely made. The visual effects are very good, and the acting is excellent. Although we see some glitches in the make up for Brad Pitt to show him older (Just like Kamal Hassan terrorizing everyone with his amateurish make ups In Dasavatharam), this is balanced by the acting and music.

Cate Blanchett is stunning. She looks very beautiful as a ballet dancer. Slim, charming and strikingly good. Brad Pitt has also done a good role (The theatre was erupting wildly with whistles and claps when we see a young Benjamin riding a bike, with sunglasses). The only hiccup with this movie is that the story was lacking the emotion. It was like an ordinary story. It would have been more effective if the story had the emotion and interest which would keep the audience ‘in’ to it. I felt that this film cannot be watched twice, and there is something missing in the story, altogether. Had this film had the emotional content, it would have been the definite Oscar winner, surging ahead of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, which was filled with this emotional content, which ultimately won the Oscar, even though it had hardcore masala embedded all over it.

In short, I experienced the same feeling I had, after watching ‘The scent of a woman’. David Fincher has definitely proved that he can also take dramas. Nice effort.

Go see Benjamin Button, for the sheer technical delight this movie offers.


Shree said...

Jerk... I wanted to see my fav star Brad Pitt's latest flick... but u spoiled the fun by writing the WHOLE story. Your narration was good... so dnt stop myself from reading the whole post. Will definitely watch it...

Shree said...

Got to see CCBB last nite. Amazing technology has been used to alter the looks of BP. I read the short story (by same name) a few days back and expected to see the same in the movie and I was pleasantly surprised to see that only the theme has been adapted from the book.
Good attempt.
And...BP just looks soooo smart even after all these years.

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