Feature

Evaluating ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’

Does Brad Pitt breathe humanity into the story of a man aging backwards?

“For a melodrama concerned with emotional pain,” said David Fear in Time Out New York, David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (watch the trailer here, via YouTube), starring Brad Pitt as a man aging backwards, “favors formal trickery over human connection to a fault.” Fincher directs as if “from deep inside a cryogenic tank,” and his “show-stopping sequences and state-of-the-art computerized aging can’t substitute for actually engaging with Button’s epic story of loss.”

But “with its blank-slate hero and life-sized timeline,” said the Los Angeles Times,” The Curious Case of Benjamin Button “is among other things a curious experiment in viewer identification.” And aside from being “a state-of-the-art technical marvel,” at the core of the film “is Pitt's performance—a delicate feat of physiognomic control.” Benjamin Button is “also a somber exploration of the most terrifying—and in Hollywood, arguably the most taboo—of subjects: aging and death.”

For the first hour of this movie, “when storytelling and special effects bond like lovers,” said Peter Travers in Rolling Stone, “you get a rush like Hollywood has discovered a brave new world.” After that, “Fincher has to keep fighting the script's push toward big, Gump-ish moments.” But “P.S.: The Academy won't mind a bit.”

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