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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (****)


Natalie Smyka, star of Across the Hall, hails The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as the best film of 2008. I share her enthusiasm and I'd say it's right up there. Benjamin Button is a sweeping, ambitious film of stunning scope and depth of feeling. Far from being what I joked would be a remake of the last season of Mork and Mindy, with Brad Pitt standing in for Jonathan Winters, Benjamin Button told an unforgettable story of a boy born old and growing younger and the extraordinary life he lead from 1919 to 2003. The special effects are so seemless, the illusion of Brad Pitt growing young is completely persuasive. I found Benjamin's early years as a young/old man much more more interesting than his later years as an old/young man, though the ladies might disagree, after having to wait close to two hours to finally see Brad Pitt all handsome and strapping. Me, I liked the shriveled up, hobbled Brad Pitt who went to his first brothel at 14 but looking like he was 74. I was also more fascinated and moved by his relationships with his adoptive mother and birth father than his love affair with Cate Blanchett. And though the film loses a bit of steam in its last act and glosses over what would be annoying details regarding Julia Ormond's character, it can be forgiven. Benjamin Button is groundbreaking, epic film making. Not without its flaws, but quite grand.