The Stinger Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett gets 6 out of 8 stingers. The Stinger movie review rates a film’s appeal according to 8 Scorpio interests indicated below.
Overall, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” ends as a compelling portrait of love and loss but sags in the middle due to shallow plot development, excessive narration, and an over-reliance on the aging backward schtick for an exhausting 2 hours and 48 minutes!
The Big 8:
Warning: May contain mild spoilers!
1. Love Story – The love and devotion between Daisy (Blanchett) and Benjamin (Pitt) had me weeping by the end of the movie. She somehow looks beyond his body to see the real person he is trapped inside, giving him one person who “gets” him. And he cares for her when she suffers her own physical tragedy. They love each other in all the ways it is possible to love a human being: as child, as friend, as lover, as parent. It is an engulfing love that made me realize how much all intense love really is the same, regardless of expression. It argues the case for loving someone beyond the surface, beyond imperfections, and beyond the things that seem to differentiate and separate. In the course of the movie, they are largely separated from each other by age and must race against time and memory in caring for each other. It is a great sacrifice, involving all the heartache, unconditional loyalty, and melacholy that Scorpios appreciate.
2. Mysticism – The strange birth of Benjamin as an baby with all the signs of an 80 year old man, including cataracts and osteoporosis will certainly intrigue, even though the movie fails to explain the phenomenon in a profound way. So, Scorpios who need convincing explanations for everything will feel jilted. A healing service in a southern Apostolic church extends the mystical cloud over the story as we wonder if the preacher can enable Benjamin, who uses a wheelchair, to walk by channeling power from the Great Beyond. The film’s mysticism, however, is extremely superficial and not that gripping.
3. Sexuality– No major, exciting sexy bedroom scenes to salivate over again and again. Sex is used for both bonding and casual fun — and while Scorpios can certainly relate to that diversity, the sex is too normal and average to be interesting. You won’t try these moves in bed.
4. Edge/Conflict– No real edge or major conflict, which is why the plot suffers. The conflict is that Benji ages backwards while all those he loves will age forward. It’s man against a bizarre twist of nature.
5.Counter-convention– There is a sense of Benjamin as a fringe dweller living his own bizarre life. By the end, this disconnect elicits extreme sympathy. He does not rebel extensively in anyway however, aside from breaking free of his mother’s restrictions to explore life. Very mild. So, the movie lacks spice and oomph, which again weakens the plot. In the trend of screenwriter Eric Roth’s other movies — such as “Forrest Gump” — the protagonist is too weak to be a true hero. He will lack the aggression and defiance that Scorpios love in those who use their differences to challenge society and convention.
6. The Macabre – The darkness here is exhausting, not empowering. So, I personally was a bit drained. I’m not into death as decay. Scorpios see death as transformation and there’s not a sense of that in the movie. Benjamin grows up in a nursing home, which is perfect. Death permeates the movie. There are more funerals here than in any movie I’ve seen. This is one dark atmosphere that I could do without, however, the whole point of the movie is to challenge our fears about death, loss, and the sense of running out of time.
7. Emotional Intensity:
You will be gripped by your emotional response to the themes of the movie. There is no way you can leave and think about life, and experience, and the way that humans intersect in the same way again. You will feel your heart shredded by how Daisy must watch the man she loves fade into youth, and how Benjamin, must watch her age and lose touch. As said earlier, the love story, because it is so all encompassing, is emotionally extreme.
8. Depth of Message:
“Life being what it is — a series of intersecting lives and events …” – Benjamin Button
“Life is defined by opportunities — even the ones we miss.” — Benjamin Button
“Dancing is all about the line…I’ve lost the line.”– Daisy.
Benjamin Button never knows the common experience of being born young. He doesnt’ get to be raised by his real family, since his father abandoned him on a doorstep, as you know from previews, to be raised by a woman working at a nursing home.
But he finds that the painful subtraction of those experiences don’t really compare to what he can discover in the peculiar happenings that are tailored to his life.
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” rides the theme of Life equaling nuanced experience.
I walked away with a stronger conviction of beliefs I occasionally forget: Life is not about moving in the structured, planned or linear fashion. It hurts but maybe life is richest and most amazing when you lose the line. It is not about regretting things you never got. It’s about embracing the spontaneous things that occur to you and twisting that experience into some idiosyncratic elixir that no one else could make … that keeps you drunk, and happy, and high, finding great discoveries in the meanderings, cruel twists, and above all the spontaneous happenstance that Life weirdly lines up for you to take or ignore.
For example, One day, Benjamin is sitting on a bench when a one day work opportunity presents itself. It was inconvenient and he had other obligations but …he took it, and turned it into a career, a catapult to exploring the world, meeting people he never would have encountered, and engaging in life. And it occurred to me that a career is just that — a vehicle to experience, to journey to the real marrow of life. It isn’t the life. These plans, these goals, these new year’s resolutions, these hobbies, these leisure activities, these family rituals …. Life is not even about them per se, but about them as mere portals … delivering you to strange human beings that you might bond with for better or worse for life or millisecond, becoming embroiled in some crazy happening that you and they will never forget.
We all know this, and Roth has used this theme in Gump. But it’s so easy to forget and think we are here to achieve plans and “visions” of what we think Life should be.
Growing younger in a way he can’t anticipate, Benjamin doesn’t have time to pretend that life is about achievements. It is too transient. Benjamin says toward the end of the movie that whether you are young or old when it occurs to you to do something — you better do it. You can start when you’re 80 or 8.
That theme was a gift to me. An even greater gift was knowing Benjamin was inside that strange body… and I think of how we encounter people and size them up from the outside without ever knowing the experience we could have with them if we were to really get to know the spirit inside and to bond, allowing our lives to be completely shifted.
I will never look at a person’s casing again without wondering what strange, unusual essence is trapped inside waiting perhaps for me to be the one to honor it and coax it out. But I suspect probing Scorpios wonder about this anyway.
They know somehow, somewhere in this smooth or wrinkly skin, we are all curious cases.
© 2009 – 2013, Synthia L. Rose. All rights reserved.
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