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Posted: December 30, 2008 6:56 p.m.

Curious masterpiece

Pitt, special effects strong in tragic story

Warner Brothers/

Role reversal: Brad Pitt stars in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - a story of a man who ages backward.

"Curious Case to Benjamin Button" is a peculiar movie indeed. Rarely today do such sprawling, visually stunning films have such an impactful message to tell.

"Button" begins with a daughter beside her mother's hospital bed. While they, like the rest of New Orleans, prepare for Hurricane Katrina to make land fall, it quickly becomes clear the mother has only a short time left. During her last few hours, the mother, Daisy, asks her daughter to read to her from an old leather bound diary.

The diary belonged to a man named Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) who was born under curious circumstances. From the excessive wrinkles to the arthritis in his joints, Button was born with all the characteristics of a very old man, only trapped in a baby's body. His father, crazed by the death of his wife during childbirth and the sight of what appears to be a monstrous baby, leaves the child on the back door steps of an elder care center. There Button is found by a black caregiver who takes him as her own son.

As the years pass, people assume Button is just another old, albeit very small, man at the home. While he grows younger, those around him grow older and one by one die. In this way Button becomes accustomed to death as a matter of life. Like his surrogate mother tells him, you have to be thankful for the time you are given.

While at the home, Button meets a young girl named Daisy and the two become fast friends. For the first time, Button is able to connect with someone his own age, even if some of those around her do not understand. Their friendship develops into a love that will last a life time. As she grows older and he grows younger, their lives continue to intersect at the most peculiar and often inconvenient times.

Through the course of the movie and Button's life, he meets all sorts of strange and wonderful people as he travels the world. Mike (Jared Harris) is a tugboat captain who has turned his body into the canvas for his art. Button finds love and sorrow as women come in and out of his life. He also discovers the horrors of war and that not all deaths are as natural as his friends' back in the nursing home.

While his curious existence has its advantages, Button must also come to terms with the terrible truth that before he dies, he will forget all that he has known and all those he has loved. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that I truly do not know what decisions I would make if I were to be put into the circumstances Button must face at the end of his life. For all the films masterful special effects and suburb acting, it is Button's final decisions that will have people talking after the last credits roll.

Grade: B+

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is rated PG-13 for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking. The film has a runtime of 159 min.


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