The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Film, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The investigative scope and emotional weight of David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ surprised those of us who accused him of valuing style over substance. But in ‘Benjamin Button’, the director assumes a greater challenge: an epic, melancholic romance that employs a multi-generational cast and groundbreaking visual effects. It’s a testament to Fincher’s skill as a storyteller that the film actually works, albeit sporadically.

The script was adapted from a F Scott Fitzgerald story about a man who ages in reverse. Newborn geriatric Benjamin (Brad Pitt) is abandoned on the steps of an old folks’ home and raised by kindly nurse Queenie (Taraji P Henson). As a septuagenarian on crutches he meets love of his life Daisy (Cate Blanchett); in middle age he woos and wins her; as a young man their life together begins to fall apart.The screenplay was written by ‘Forrest Gump’ scribe Eric Roth, and it shows: much of ‘Button’ takes place in a Southern fantasia populated by brassy women and sassy black folks, all of whom pepper their conversation with enough homespun homilies to fill a Reader’s Digest almanac. But thankfully this is Fincher’s movie, not Roth’s, and his exacting eye for bravura visual spectacle  carries the picture.

At times infuriatingly banal, at others unexpectedly powerful, this is shameless Oscar bait that transcends hokey scripting thanks to a combination of sheer craft and some remarkable performances, notably Tilda Swinton, whose brief, poignant turn crystallises the film’s timeless themes of love, loss and regret.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday February 6 2009
Duration: 166 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Eric Roth
Cast: Elias Koteas
Brad Pitt
Jared Harris
Jason Flemyng
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali
Cate Blanchett
Taraji P Henson