Over vacation I tried to see as many of the possible Oscar contending movies as I could, including Milk, Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler (hopefully I will see more in the weeks to come) but for a long time, my eye has been on the release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Something you should know is that I am a huge fan of David Fincher and would argue that he is one of the best directors to emerge over the past 20 years. The other day, I read an article in the New York Times saying that Fincher would be interviewed at Lincoln Center and I immediately got tickets but then realized I hadn't yet seen the movie so I went to go see it the night before the interview. I went into the movie unsure as to how I would feel. I knew this would not be a typical Fincher thriller and I had heard from various sources that the movies was either just okay, or great but I figured I would enjoy it.
(NO SPOILERS BUT IF YOU WANT TO GO INTO THE MOVIE WITH AN OPEN MIND STOP NOW!!!)
The film begins a little slow with a seemingly out of place story about an elderly woman in what appears to be her death bed, being comforted by her daughter. The woman begins to tell the story about a clock maker who builds a clock which goes backwards. At this point I was still unsure how this all related but it seemed like it went with the theme so my attention span had not been lost. As the story continues, the daughter begins to read through a diary written by Benjamin Button and narrated by Brad Pitt. I wont go into the details too much further but I will say that the story is very nice and heart warming. It is a relatively cliche story but told in an unconventional way. Admittedly the film seems like a perfect mix between Big Fish and Forest Gump (which has the same screenwriter as Button) but it is given beautiful imagery by Fincher.
Brad Pitt does an excellent job of playing the New Orleans born Benjamin Button putting a very convincing southern bayou accent on. His acting has never been better and his fellow cast members including, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Jared Harris and Tilda Swinton all do an outstanding job of supporting him. However, as good a job as the actors do, what really stuck out to me was the special effects used on Pitt's aging process and in various scenes throughout. I found the effects to be extremely realistic and used in very imaginative ways.
Overall, the film is fantastic. It comes together from every possible angle in all the right places. My only real complaint is it's length. I did not have a problem with it, but I could see how many people might. However, the film does end with a very nice moral and managed to get me a little choked up. I give it 4/5 stars and a major round of applause to David Fincher for transforming what could have been a very ordinary fairy tale into a tale of grand proportions. He never ceases to amaze me and I look forward to what he comes out with next.