Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I saw the movie over a week ago, and read the script online a few days ago. This is the second movie script I have read after watching the movie, and it is quite a different experience. It consists of way more than dialogues; the scriptwriters write their descriptions like novelists, and bring life to the inner emotions that are not spoken. I guess this makes it easier for the director and the actors to connect to the writer's intention. If you haven't done so yet, check out It has a nice collection of full movie scripts, and it is quite enjoyable to read the script of a movie you just watched.

As for the movie itself, it was enjoyable to watch, though the movie is far from perfect. I liked the performance of Julia Ormond as Daisy's daughter; she looked very natural (and surprisingly young) in the role. The flow of the script is good, without any excessively slow portions. 

Brad Pitt did a decent job, though I didn't think it was very memorable. His personality stayed pretty much the same throughout. His characterisation was quite weak; I think the writers just left his characterisation as "guy who ages backwards". But how about who he is as a person? We never get to know. There was an interesting lead about how he grew up seeing death around him, but the issue is never fleshed out to show how that makes him who he is.  

Cate Blanchett's performance is significantly more impressive, as is her character. Daisy shows a wonderful range of personality changes as she ages, going from a carefree girl in her 20s to a tired woman in her 30s to a dignified lady in the later parts of the movie. Because the writers weren't distracted by a basic premise like they were for Benjamin, they have fleshed her character out so well.

The main feeling I got in the movie is one of lost potential. There were a lot of things that started to develop and were dropped halfway. The clock that ages backwards was a symbol that could have been used more, and the link to Benjamin's life should have been a lot tighter, more than just "both go backwards". I still don't know what the hummingbird is supposed to represent in the movie. Like I mentioned earlier, Benjamin's characterisation is poor, which is a pity. With such a bizarre character trait, a lot more aspects of his personality could have been fully explored. There is a message of "Live life to the fullest" in the movie, but I could never see how that tied in with Benjamin's bizarre character trait. True, he learnt that from the people he saw in life, and those parts do tie together nicely. But why would he have not learnt these exact things if he had aged properly? At the end of the movie, he sounds like an old man who has seen life, which is what he is. But why does he sound like any other old man? How did aging backwards change his view? What was the point of the fundamental premise of the movie, if it is irrelevant to the conclusion? There, to me, lies the basic problem of the movie.

I did enjoy the movie, but not as much I had hoped to. The movie tried to provoke me, or teach me a message of living life, but it didn't quite connect with me. I have yet to watch Slumdog Millionaire, the other big Oscar movie. Need to catch it sometime soon.


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