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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Elias Koteas
DIRECTED BY
David Fincher
SCREENPLAY
Eric Roth (based upon short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
159 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Paramount
 
 "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Review 
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I expect "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

I expect Brad Pitt to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.

Golden Globe nominees Taraji P. Henson and Tilda Swinton may themselves be recognized with Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations, as well.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" finds itself with a slew of Oscar nominations.

I will simply disagree.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" isn't a bad film. In fact, I wholeheartedly recommend seeing the film. Director David Fincher has fashioned a hypnotically beautiful, well acted and rather curious film that may very well be your cup of tea.

The film, based upon a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is the story of a man who is born an old man and becomes younger as he ages.

Most assuredly, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a fantasy, yet the screenplay by Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump") isn't really faithful to Fitzgerald's story and, in all honesty, I'd have rather seen the story the way that Fitzgerald wrote it.

Even at his worst, David Fincher is quite the visionary director. Fincher paints visions both extraordinary and ordinary. The world he creates for Benjamin Button manages, quite often, to be both. On artistic merit alone, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is worth seeing.

Brad Pitt is enchanting to watch as Benjamin Button, even if we never are really afforded the opportunity to bond with him.

That lack of bonding with Button, or anyone else in the film for that matter, is my primary issue with "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Does a film absolutely require emotional resonance to succeed?

Of course not.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," however, is absolutely centered upon the life journey, the extraordinary life journey, of a man who has a life unlike any other.

Shouldn't I at least care about the journey?

I won't necessarily quibble with an Oscar nomination for Pitt, though I'd find myself extremely disappointed with a win. Pitt's performance as Button is certainly among Pitt's finest screen work, but I can't help but think there's places left unexplored even after the film's nearly 3 hour running time.

The same is true for virtually all of the supporting players, with the exception of Taraji P. Henson. Henson turns Queenie, the caretaker who raises Benjamin, into an extraordinary woman of magnificence and grace. Among the film's several like Oscar nominations, Henson's is most deserved.

Blanchett, as well, performs nicely despite the disturbing fact that I never once bought into her relationship with Pitt and, in fact, watch the relationship develop as Pitt changes physically is even a tad creepy.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a good film. It is a beautiful film. It is an interesting and curious and occasionally captivating film.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" will be nominated for a slew of Oscars, though Fincher's "Zodiac" was much more deserving of such recognition.

I can't help but think, however, that "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" should have been a much better film. This film should have been, running away, the cinematic highlight of the year with its unique storyline, captivating visuals and distinct spirit.

It's not.

With stronger character development and more commitment to how the characters related to their worlds, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" would have easily been 2008's best film.

Instead, it's merely an entertaining curiosity.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

    The Official Rating Guideline
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