Heroes of the Zeroes: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
As titles go, 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” carried savory, savage and sad irony. Born an octogenarian in an infant’s body, Benjamin Button aged backwards, but couldn’t reverse the chronology on the fate that awaits us all.
Life, love and luck surrounded him, as did death. Family and friends evaporated from his grasp. Minimal events carried infinite meaning. Memories and regrets came to play as much hell with his milestones and remembrances as anyone else’s.
David Fincher’s epic didn’t wallow in nihilistic obsessions like “Se7en” or “Zodiac,” but preached no comforting homily about life’s rich pageant either. Life is feel-good in spurts, as “Button” accurately depicts it — a series of oddly interconnected, occasionally elating moments that accumulate before death claims us.
That simple truth propels this spellbinding fable in which time passes with potency and minutes melt away as Benjamin tries to reel in his years. Still, control is relative for someone born with an odd condition, and his passivity — drubbed by some as being a drab drip — could be chalked up to seeking lessons from those aging “normally.”
Played by Brad Pitt with help from effects attuned to contrasting an aged body and a youthful countenance, Benjamin knows joy — namely over a few blissful years with lifelong love Daisy (Cate Blanchett) when their outward appearances match.
Yet even in those years, mortality and melancholy enveloped Benjamin. Framed by Hurricane Katrina, “Button’s” oft-repeated idea was that you never know what’s coming for you — both a downer and a blessing brought to us by life’s wonderment.