Curious Cases

” ‘He seems to grow younger every year,’ they would remark. And if old Roger Button, now sixty-five years old, had failed at first to give a proper welcome to his son he atoned at last by bestowing on him what amounted to adulation.

And here we come to an unpleasant subject which it will be well to pass over as quickly as possible. There was only one thing that worried Benjamin Button; his wife had ceased to attract him. At that time Hildegarde was a woman of thirty-five, with a son, Roscoe, fourteen years old. In the early days of their marriage Benjamin had worshipped her. But, as the years passed, her honey-coloured hair became an unexciting brown, the blue enamel of her eyes assumed the aspect of cheap crockery-moreover, and, most of all, she had become too settled in her ways, too placid, too content, too anaemic in her excitements, and too sober in her taste. As a bride it been she who had “dragged” Benjamin to dances and dinners–now conditions were reversed.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald is, as a rule, charming, and the short story from which this excerpt is taken is only a slight exception. There’s something intriguing and yet tedious about following a character whose life runs backward both in story and new movie. Perhaps it’s because of the inevitability of the premise?

The movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based off of Fitzgerald’s 1921 short story that follows Benjamin through his life from birth as an old man as he lives, falls in love, and dies as a child. The movie differs in mostly every other respect. The acting of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett is, of course, accomplshed, and the aging process is a testament to the marvels of technological advancement. It was well made, but nearly 3 hours with no plot development is slow going.The short story is worthwhile; it’s up to you to decide if the movie is worth 3 hours of your time. An hour and a half, certainly. For 3 hours, I require action.

It’s a great premise for a story, and a great fantasy to play in your head, but it doesn’t make for intriguing cinema. What is the crux of the plot? Benjamin grows young. And what happens? Benjamin grows young. There is no great struggle, just the unnatural process of unaging.

Both short story and movie are curious cases in themselves. A great premise for both, and on one hand a great writer, and the other excellent actors. Yet they fall short, at least in my estimation. We will see if the film becomes curiously popular. Stranger things have happened.

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