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The Hardest Button to Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

As you all know, I’ve been anxiously awaiting this latest effort from director David Fincher for pretty much the whole year. He’s just been one of those consistently great directors and the premise is certainly a juicy one. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m happy to report that the film did deliver, but it didn’t blow me away like I thought it would.

Benjamin Button is born as a baby with all the signs of deterioration you’d expect to see in an 80 year old man. As the years go by, he grows into an old man, and slowly it becomes apparent that he is aging backwards. The film documents most of Benjamin’s adventures, but focuses on his relationship with Daisy, the love of his life.

The performances here are adequate, but I don’t think award worthy. Brad Pitt does a fine job with how difficult a role it is, and Cate Blanchett does the best New Orleans accent she can. The supporting cast is just as strong as the stars, with the always-good Tilda Swinton turning in another great performance and Jared Harris making his brief appearnce very memorable.

This is easily Fincher’s most ambitious film yet, with an epic duration and an astounding amount of visual effects. What’s so impressive is how often he is able to make the CG work here, there were only a couple scenes where I really noticed what we were looking at wasn’t “real.” Really a top notch effort here, and all the spectacle of 1920s New Orleans, Russia, WWII and Benjamin’s aging in reverse really make this film something to see.

The film is written by Eric Roth, the Forest Gump guy, and this film has the same sweeping feel that that one did. While it sure can deliver the romance, drama, and even the comedy (lightning guy!) I couldn’t help but feel it lacking. No one ever really questions Benjamin’s condition, nor is it used to delve into an understanding of the human condition, mortality, or even faith. Benjamin simply is the way he is. The climax feels a little off too, but that might just be because Benjamin’s demise is pretty weird. Then again, should things really be straightforward and heartwarmingly satisfying with such a bizzare character?

In the end, I think this is a movie people should go see. On a purely visual level, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is marvelous. It might not be perfectly executed, but the story is more than satisfying. At the very least, this is a film that will leave an impression on you.

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