The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Release Date: December 25, 2008
Directed by: David Fincher
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng, Tilda Swinton, Jared Harris, Mahershallahashbaz Ali, Rampai Mohadi, Phyllis Somerville, Edith Ivey, Elias Koteas

It started as a narration on Benjamin Button’s diary which is in request by the dying Daisy Fuller to her only daughter, Caroline to read aloud (contains of postcards and photographs of his whereabouts). It began somewhere in 1918 in Lousiana, New Orleans whereby Thomas Button’s wife died in childbirth. And the infant was born wrinkled and crippled. Doctor said he might be partially impaired as well.

Benjamin as young infant who is wrinkled and crippled in 1918

This drives Thomas insane that he took his young son and ran away but to put him under the stairs of an old folks home. The young Button was then raised by two black couples. There his adopted mother named him Benjamin.

Benjamin, now 7 year-old

When Benjamin was 7 year-old (he looks like an 80 year old), he may be looking old but he’s still a child. At age 12, he met Daisy Fuller (Elle Fanning). Benjamin’s first childhood friend and sweetheart at that time.

Captain Mike

A few years later, Benjamin goes to work on a tugboat on the docks of New Orleans for Captain Mike (Jared Harris). In their free time, the captain takes him to brothels and bars. For the first time, Benjamin meets Thomas Button, who does not reveal that he is Benjamin’s father. Later, Benjamin leaves New Orleans with the tugboat crew for a long-term work engagement; Daisy asks him to send her postcards from his travels, which Benjamin does.

Benjamin Buttons secretly meets Elizabeth Abbott every night and they have compassionate for each other but does it discreetly

During a stay in Russia, Benjamin meets a British woman named Elizabeth Abbott (Tilda Swinton) and falls in love with her; Daisy is visibly hurt to receive this news via postcard. Elizabeth is already married, with her husband working as a spy for the British government, but she has an affair with Benjamin.

The fling ends on the morning of December 8, 1941, the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, when Elizabeth abruptly departs, leaving a note behind: “It was nice to have met you.”

Shortly thereafter, Benjamin gets caught up in World War II when Captain Mike’s boat and crew are enlisted by the United States Navy. Happening upon the burning wrecks of an Allied convoy, the tugboat rams and sinks a German U-boat in the Atlantic Ocean.

Most of the sailors on board the tugboat, including Captain Mike, were killed in the battle by an MG. As a rescued Benjamin departs the scene the next morning, a hummingbird; which Captain Mike had earlier described as a miracle before flying away.

After this, Benjamin sees death in a different way, as opposed to the retirement home where death seemed more natural.

Thomas Button

In 1945, Benjamin returns to New Orleans, and again meets Thomas Button, who is dying. Thomas reveals to Benjamin that he is his father and bequeaths all of his assets to

Benjamin, including the house and the family business. Initially overwhelmed and angry, Benjamin eventually makes peace with his father before the elder Button dies.

Daisy Fuller, a successful ballet dancer in New York

Benjamin learns that Daisy has become a successful dancer in New York City. When he travels to New York to meet Daisy at a performance, he finds Daisy has fallen in love with a fellow dancer, and tries to accept that their lives have separated.

However, when Daisy later falls victim to a car accident during a dance tour in Paris, shattering her leg and abruptly ending her dance career, Benjamin immediately travels to Paris to find her. Daisy’s first comment upon seeing Benjamin is “you’re perfect,” referring to his youthful appearance; frustrated and ashamed at her own injuries, she turns Benjamin away, telling him to get out of her life.

Benjamin and Daisy settles down after selling his father's mansion and Buttons Factory

In 1962, Daisy returns to New Orleans and meets Benjamin again and falls in love. Benjamin sells the house he had inherited from Thomas Button and moves into a duplex apartment with Daisy, who later starts a dance studio for young girls.

Now the same apparent age, the couple passes the 1960s together, in large part blissfully but increasingly aware of Benjamin growing younger while Daisy grows older.

A few years pass and Daisy gives birth to a girl, Caroline, named after Benjamin’s biological mother. Benjamin, believing he can no longer be a “real father” to his daughter due to his continued reverse aging, decides to leave Daisy behind with his possessions and assets so that she will only have to raise one child, not two.

When Caroline turns one, Benjamin departs with nothing but the clothes on his back, supporting himself with odd jobs as he travels various countries around the world.

Benjamin sets on a journey around various countries supporting himself

Reading this account in the hospital room of 2005, Caroline learns that Benjamin is her father. She is upset that Daisy took such a long time to inform her of this, but finds that Benjamin sent her a postcard from everywhere for each of her birthdays expressing his love for his daughter.

In 1980, Benjamin (looking like a 24-year-old) visits Daisy in her dance studio. The aging Daisy is now married to Fran Martin, a kind man who supports her well, to Benjamin’s relief.

Daisy introduces Benjamin to her husband and the 12-year-old Caroline as a long-time family friend. Daisy and Benjamin then meet privately in Benjamin’s hotel where they share their passion for each other, but they mutually realize that Daisy has become too old for Benjamin.

Benjamin departs again and continues to grow younger until one day, Daisy receives a phone call from social workers about Benjamin who is now at puberty stage; called her because they saw her name all over his diary.

The social workers believe that he has dementia, but he exhibits symptoms more similar to Alzheimer’s, as he often sometimes forgets that he had just eaten (a common symptom of Alzheimer’s) and cannot remember Daisy or much of his past.

Daisy moves into the nursing home where Benjamin grew up and takes care of him as he becomes a confused 5-year-old boy with a growing temper.

“I want my fucking breakfast!”, shouted the 10 year old Benjamin Button.

Somewhere in 2003, Benjamin has become a baby embraced in the arms of his wife Daisy who is now looking like an 80 year-old woman. He died staring at her eyes while she claims that his stare is as if he remembered Daisy for a moment.

Reviewer’s Note:

This is such a beautiful story-telling by Fitzgerald-turn-movie. A very moving story about the reversed age process. David Fincher has made such an epic tale.

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