The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Jared Harris, Jason Flemyng, Mahershala Ali, Elias Koteas

Director: David Fincher

Summary: The story of a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences

Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Pitt), Supporting Actress (Henson), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Art Direction*, Cinematography, Makeup*, Costume Design, Film Editing, Visual Effects*

How do you turn a short story in a nearly 3 hour movie? By making it a “big/important” film about how we should view life, its opportunities taken and missed, aging and death, luck, fate and chance. The question is though: does it have anything particularly interesting to say about any of those themes? Eh…not really in my estimation, which is the big problem with this bloated, sort of empty film.

Benjamin Button deserved all of its technical nominations-the makeup and effects are extremely impressive even if they do fall into the uncanny valley on occasion, the film looks great from a production design and cinematography standpoint, and the score is very good. I also thought Pitt was consistently solid as the lead in a fairly challenging role. However, the first hour and forty minutes are kind of a slog, constantly beating us over the head with its themes but not really going all that deep or doing anything novel with them honestly, before our leads are finally reunited and they have some decent chemistry with each other. From then on, the film gets more engaging for that last hour. Still, this was a film that wanted to be far weightier than the final product was able to deliver (although I do like the observation that the beginning and ends of a person’s life can sometimes not be all that very different). Ultimately, it’s a pretty film with a quality lead performance but a script that needed to be more focused and either more insightful or going in a different direction altogether.

Rating: C

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