In 'Benjamin Button,' A Curiously Chilly Passion

Brad Pitt (digitally aged) as Benjamin Button i i

Less Cute As A Button: A digitally aged actor plays the young title character who'll age backward to be Brad Pitt. Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Paramount Pictures
Brad Pitt (digitally aged) as Benjamin Button

Less Cute As A Button: A digitally aged actor plays the young title character who'll age backward to be Brad Pitt.

Paramount Pictures

The Curious Case
of Benjamin Button

  • Director: David Fincher
  • Genre: Drama, Fantasy,               Romance
  • Running Time: 167 minutes

Rated PG-13: Brief wartime violence, smoking, sexuality and strong language

Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett i i

All In Good Time: As he grows younger, Pitt's Benjamin and Cate Blanchett's Daisy meet in the middle, and their romance blooms at last. Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Paramount Pictures
Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett

All In Good Time: As he grows younger, Pitt's Benjamin and Cate Blanchett's Daisy meet in the middle, and their romance blooms at last.

Paramount Pictures

Based on a fantastical F. Scott Fitzgerald short story about a man who ages backward — he's born old and dies an infant — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not a project that cried out to be filmed. Now that it's been turned into a motion picture starring megawatt movie stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, you have to wonder why anyone bothered.

The film uses that man-ages-backward notion as a framework on which to hang a completely random string of dramatic incidents, everything from a World War II naval engagement to the finding of a foundling on the back stairs. This 2-hour-and-47-minute endurance test of a movie plays like people making the best of an assignment rather than operating out of genuine passion.

Passion, however, is part of what this film is supposed to be about. It tells the peculiar love story of Benjamin and Daisy, whose romance is constantly thwarted by the fact that Benjamin's body almost never matches up with his chronological age. It's a problem even when they meet as children.

Benjamin Button would have had a better chance of success if it had a different director — meaning not David Fincher, whose credits include Seven and Zodiac. It's like asking the highbrow Jean Renoir to do a slasher movie; as my mother used to say, no good will come of this.

As Benjamin grows into childhood, he still has the look and infirmities of a very old man. So the film places Brad Pitt's computer-aged face on the bodies of other actors who play Benjamin as a child.

That's about as grotesque as it sounds. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leaves you colder than it should, and it shouldn't leave you cold at all.

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