The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Okay, I failed. I didn't make it too all the Oscar nominated films and I didn't review this one before the ceremony... (or any where near it) but then again it didn't end up winning any of the major awards it was up for so maybe it didn't hurt my review of the Oscars too much... and it's probably out on DVD soon anyway.
but enough of my excuses...
Benjamin Button is a charming, interesting and highly enjoyable film, but perhaps the premise promised more. The concept of a man growing from an old baby into a young man is handled brilliantly to begin with, especially through it's exceptional special effects that only infrequently fail to convince. His early years move along apace and Brad Pitt plays the part with the child-like innocence needed. As he grows older/younger the pace slows to explore his romance with Kate Blanchett's Rose and the quirks of his aging process take a back seat.
Blanchett plays her role with gusto, but at times isn't the most likable character as Benjamin struggles to win her heart. When they inevitably do get together, the film hits perhaps it's least interesting point, with Button's age stabling out around this point. The anticipation of his de-aging will be handled in the final chapter of the film, also lessens the impact of this scene.
This leads me on to my biggest disappointment. I assumed that as Button began life as an old baby, he'd end it as an adult baby. I was looking forward to seeing some kind of gross weird looking man child. Unfortunately he just turns back into a kid and then into a baby. Not as dramatic as I'd hoped, or as disturbing. The special effects team could have had a chance to fully round off the film with a bizarre creation and director David Fincher could have added a memorable dark moment that would have helped the film stand out from the usual romantic fair.
There are also a few cringe-worthy moments of sentimentalism involving a kingfisher which distract from rather than enhance the atmosphere. The subplot of the man hit by lightening however is very funny and offers regular bouts of laughter.
Overall Benjamin Button is a likable and good hearted film, but lacks the edge that I hoped David Fincher would lend the tale. 7/10