Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Curious Question About BENJAMIN BUTTON ... **SPOILERS**

I saw THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON a couple of weeks ago, and while I thought it was generally good and well-acted, I did have two major issues. First, it was WAY too long. And not only was it long, but at times it was agonizingly slow. I realize that the movie was meant to explore this man's fascinating life to the fullest, but goddamn, it seemed like there were several stretches of 20 minutes or more where absolutely nothing of interest happened.

But okay, sometimes filmmakers get carried away and movies are too long. Usually I can deal with it. But there was another detail about this movie that's been sticking in my craw since I saw it. Remember the side story involving the old man who claims to have been struck by lightning seven times? He would appear and say, "Did I ever tell you that I was struck by lightning seven times??" followed by some old-timey film footage of him getting zapped in various predicaments. These bizarre non-sequiturs were some of the few parts of the movie that I really liked, and I laughed out loud every time the old man made an appearance. I looked forward to each one, especially once I realized that he was, in fact, going to pop up throughout the movie and we'd get to see all seven strikes!

Except... they DIDN'T show them all. When the movie ended, by my count, they only showed SIX instances (the final one occurring during the little epilogue before the credits). My friends and I were puzzled, so we sat through the credits in the hopes that maybe they'd show the seventh strike afterwards -- which, if it had happened, would've been the greatest post-credit scene EVER. But... no. We got nothing, and left the theatre confused, annoyed and unfulfilled.

So what I want to know is... WHAT THE FUCK?! It's not even that this character is so important in the scheme of things... but why bother showing him at all if you're not going to follow through with it? Show him once, fine, it's a one-shot deal. But show him twice, three times, etc., and then suddenly it stands to reason that you're going to go all the way with it. To me, this lack of a payoff is a MASSIVE disappointment, and the more I think about, the more it pisses me off and the further down my list the movie falls. Is there some kind of metaphor that I am missing? Or did the filmmakers just plain FORGET? If it's the first reason, well, then it was a pretty bad metaphor, and that's just annoying. If it's the second reason, well, that's even worse, because that means it was a simple case of sloppy, lazy filmmaking -- and that is inexcusable, especially from the director of SEVEN and FIGHT CLUB, and especially in a freakin' 159-minute film!

I'd love to hear someone ask David Fincher and screenwriter Eric Roth about this. But in the meantime, anyone else have any ideas, even if you're just pulling some lame shite out of your ass? Here's an example:

"By not showing the seventh strike, it represents the notion that sometimes there's just not enough time in one lifetime to do, see & hear everything, and you have to make the most of that which you are fortunate to experience."

Okay, your turn!


  1. Having not yet seen the movie I will give my lame guess ... perhaps it is a comment about imperfect memory and the tendency to mythologize one's own past.

  2. You know, I thought there weren't 7 of those flashbacks, I just didn't count 'cause I was busy trying to stay awake.
    My biggest question about the movie is what was the significance of Hurricane Katrina? It didn't do anything for the story, didn't progress anything, didn't hold anything back... was it possibly just a homage to New Orleans? It felt like it was an extra thing to take up more time and not go anywhere.
    Overall, the only curious thing about Benjamin Button's case was his backwards aging. Nothing else about his life struck me as all that interesting. More than anything, this movie really just made me want to read the book, which I'm sure told the story better than this big disappointment.
    The only detail that absolutely amazed me and will continue to amaze me is the makeup. It might have actually inspired me to go into stage and/or film makeup, because omg, I wanna make Brad Pitt look 80, and then 18. And DAMN he looks good.
    But yeah, for the most part, I was unimpressed and bored. David Fincher should stick movies with more action and suspense.

  3. I agree about the Katrina thing -- and indeed, I think its sole purpose was simply to pay homage to New Orleans. Totally unnecessary. If anything, it just makes the movie all the more depressing knowing that everyone in that hospital probably died.

    I also agree that the makeup was phenomenal and that's the only Oscar it deserves. I also loooove me some Cate Blanchett!