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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Aging in reverse, but faced with age-old problems

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 1, 2009 -- This movie about a man who ages backwards reminds me a lot of another everyman story, that of Forrest Gump (The screenplays of “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Forrest Gump” were both written by Eric Roth). Forrest Gump's mother famously said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” Benjamin Button's stepfather says the same thing in different words, “You never know what's comin' for you.”

In fact, Button comes to foresee his future. He will eventually become a helpless infant after he becomes a child, just as everyone else knows they will grow old and die someday, but they try not to think about it. Button grows young, but this doesn't solve life's problems, it merely shuffles their order somewhat. He still has to plan for the future, sometimes in tragic ways. The movie begins with a beautiful metaphor. A master clock maker whose son is killed in World War I, builds a magnificent New Orleans train station clock that runs backwards, hoping that his son, and all the other sons who were killed in the war may someday return if time runs backward. Of course, it doesn't work that way for the clock maker's son, or for Benjamin Button, either.

Benjamin Button finds that joys and sorrows come and go like the tides. Loved ones grow old and die. The fact that he grows younger doesn't make any of this any easier. What makes life worth living for Button is what makes it worth living for anyone, the love of friends and family and the unexpected gifts from strangers.

The movie is filled with fascinating characters, wonderfully portrayed by a gifted cast of actors. Brad Pitt is Button. His mother, Queenie, who adopted him is played by Taraji P. Henson (“Talk to Me”) in the most memorable performance of the film, a mixture of love and edgy attitude that provides warmth, wisdom and humor over the duration of the film. Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is the love of Button's life. The equally versatile Tilda Swinton, plays another lover, Elizabeth Abbott. Jared Harris (son of the legendary Richard Harris) plays the unforgettable Captain Mike, a hard drinking, tattooed, frustrated artist turned tugboat captain.

Production values in this film are awesome. It convincingly depicts all time periods from 1918 to 2005 in locations from New Orleans to Murmansk in the old Soviet Union. The aging, and anti-aging makeup effects are superb, handled by a talented crew of makeup artists, as well as a special makeup effects puppeteer. For director David Fincher, this is another triumph almost as good as last year's magnificent period film, “Zodiac.” For writer Eric Roth (“Munich”) this is one of his best efforts (based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald). It uses numerous flashbacks and voice-over narrations to tell a very complex story in a very convincing way. This is one of the year's best films. It rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)