The cover for the spiffy new movie edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button reads: "the inspiration for the upcoming major motion picture." Anyone who reads the famous 1922 short story, about a man who is mysteriously born a septuagenarian and begins to age backwards, will immediately realize that it can't be any more than that. My copy is about fifty small, large-print pages, and it takes no more than twenty minutes to read. There are only about four characters of any note, and each of their relationships is bitter and hollow; the whole thing is a quick, moody burst of melancholy, a high concept on which Fitzgerald had no interest in lingering.
The anxiously awaited movie is directed by David Fincher – his follow-up to Zodiac -- and written by Eric Roth (the IMDb doesn't list a credit for Fitzgerald), whose resume includes Forrest Gump, The Insider, and Munich. Compared to the source material, the film has virtually a cast of thousands. Benjamin's love interest is renamed Daisy – the story's "Hildegarde" just doesn't have the same ring to it – and is played by Cate Blanchett. "Daisy age 6" is played by Elle Fanning (a.k.a. Little Dakota), though it's hard to imagine what use the film will have for a Daisy age 6: do she and Benjamin now meet while the latter is an "old man" and she a toddler? President Theodore Roosevelt shows up, for some reason. And, at least according to this Ain't It Cool test screening review, the current incarnation of the movie clocks in at three hours.