Combine Forest Gump and Meet Joe Black with the precise details of every David Fincher movie and you have The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Less curious and far more ordinary to the world Button inhabits, the film attempts to mix the fantasy of love, the reality of death, and the magic of Hollywood to create a wide spanning epic. But if “epic” isn’t your thing (and it’s not really mine) Button comes across over-produced and a little boring.
I really wanted to like this movie. Brad Pitt is a hunk, no matter what your denomination, Cate Blanchett is always superb, and Fincher is a master at his craft. All those elements are blaringly apparently in this film, but the overall affect is just a little too Hollywood for my tastes.
The source material is great, but what makes the source material great is its brevity. Benjamin Button is actually born a full-sized, bearded old man. Nothing is explained besides stating that it is unexplainable. The film version tends to drag things out, to over dramatize and force emotions when things should be a little toned down. (There is also the change that demonized home birth, killing off the mother in the process, which really bugged me.)
That said, the make up is incredible. Remember that episode of the X-files when Mulder and Scully are stuck in the Bermuda Triangle and they start getting older and older and their faces start falling off Robert-Redford style? This is way better than that. Making Brad Pitt seem 17 again is one thing (a little coverup and some lip gloss will do the trick) but making him look 89 sort of blew me away. They even give Cate Blanchett that unattractive bit of flab under the chin that skinny older women tend to grow in their 50s.
So while there are plenty of other films to see this year that should be getting more attention Oscar-style than this one, it’s worth seeing merely for the spectacle. Fincher understands how to make films. Whether those films always tell the best stories is arguable.