Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and situations including adultery and prostitution, some nudity
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Battle violence with guns and explosions, characters wounded and killed, character struck by lightning, sad deaths
Diversity Issues:A strength of the movie is strong inter-racial family relationships
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2008
DVD Release Date:May 12, 2009

Brad Pitt is a very fine actor (see “Twelve Monkeys” and “True Romance”) but in this epic fantasy his diligent and thoughtful performance contributes less to the film than his appearance, about two-thirds of the way through. I mean appearance in the broadest sense. It is not until that point that we feel that the Pitt we have been waiting for shows up on screen. And it is at that moment that Pitt’s appearance, meaning his golden movie star beauty, provides the essential jolt that propels the story forward into its final, heart-wrenching conclusion.

It takes its title from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who lives his life backwards, born as an old man and getting younger every day. The movie begins with both of its main characters very, very old. One is Daisy (Cate Blanchett), dying in a hospital, with her daughter standing vigil. Daisy asks her daughter to read aloud from an old diary and we go back to the Armistice, the end of World War I. A baby is born and his mother dies in childbirth. The father is horrified by the child and leaves him on the doorstep of a home for the elderly where he is adopted by Queenie (the marvelous Taraji P. Henson), who works at the home. At first he seems like an exceptionally ugly baby. And then as he gets older he seems to be disabled. A nursing home is a perfect environment for young Benjamin Button. He’s just another person who needs help. He is raised in an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance and grows up to have a gentle and observant nature.

One day a little girl comes to visit her grandmother. It is Daisy. Benjamin looks like a very old man but he is really a little boy and he wants to play with her. As she grows up, he gets younger, but there are still decades between them. Benjamin leaves the nursing home to work on a ship and writes to Daisy from around the world.

The digital effects are very well done and by this time Pitt starts to become more recognizable, so almost-familiar that we almost believe that this is the way he looks now, that he’s getting a little older like the rest of us. And then, all of a sudden, there he is, the wind brushing his hair, a burnished glow on, around, and coming from him, the very personification of youth and promise and every possible kind of yes. Our hearts ache with the bittersweet longing for what he has that no one ever will, the look and energy of youth with the wisdom and experience of age. And then they ache again with what he shares with us and every human, the awareness of how brief it all really is and the need for connection to transcend life’s limits.

This is a film with the scope and reach of almost a century but its power comes from the smallest gestures and the simplest moments. And its ultimate conclusion is one of the most powerful and moving of the year.



  • http://gemstarr12@nyc.rr.com Lorraine Serabian

    Hi Merry:
    This is a review of the film we were talking about last night.
    Auntie L

  • Marty Nowell

    The “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was one of the best movies I have ever seen. (and I am an avid movie goer) From the superb Brad Pitt, his mother, Daisy and the rest of the cast, their acting was outstanding throughout. To be able to pull off the aged baby and watch his life unfold the way it did was remarkable. Congratulations to all who worked so perfectly to make this extraordinary movie possible.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Marty! I am so glad you liked it and I was glad to see how well it has done at the box office this weekend. I found the end one of the most touching I have seen in a long time.

  • Dustin Putman

    Watching the film a second time only made me love “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” even more. The first time through, the movie is touching and powerful, but the second time it is almost staggering how effective it is. Knowing already all that is to follow aids in informing each scene and making each moment breathtaking. I teared up a couple times during my first viewing. On my second–full disclosure–I started weeping at the 15-minute mark and didn’t stop until after it was over, 2 and a half hours later. That has never ever happened to me before. This is one of the great motion pictures of the decade.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Dustin. It is an extraordinary film that contains great scope without neglecting the most telling detail.

  • Dustin Putman

    Very well-put, Nell!

  • http://www.coffeerama.com coffee fiend

    Benjamin Button was very Fincher-esque… almost as good as his other stuff if not for some nagging plot holes

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, CF — I think in a fantasy based on the idea of a man living his life backwards you have to be a little extra forgiving when it comes to logical inconsistencies and omissions. Glad you liked the movie!

  • Anonymous

    I think the sexual scenes are a little more profound than explained. Younger than 18 shouldn’t go see this movie.

  • a.doomoot

    Really? I did not like Benjamin Button at all.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Really? Why not?
    As I said, I found it long and the main character frustratingly passive, but ultimately very powerful.

Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.