Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ladies and gents, we have a new guest contributor! Paper Tiger will be casting his gimlet eye over the latest film releases. In this, his first post, he's wondering whether Ben Button is curious or just plain dull...

A review:

It is customary and polite before reviewing a film to give an indication when 'Spoilers' will be included in the text. No such warning is necessary however when commenting on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett as hardly anything noteworthy happens during the near 3 hour running time of the movie and so there is little danger of 'spoiling' anyone's watching of the film by revealing any crucial moments in the story.

The film is based supposedly upon a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have not read this short story, but I fail to see how closely the plot of the film could follow that of any short story given the film's great length. This is its main flaw. Aside from this, the film is actually quite good. Both leads give convincing and sensitive performances and are ably supported by a marvelous turn from Tilda Swinton (who deserves to be more justly billed for her role in the film). The make up and special effects are remarkable, particularly the former in its fantastic transformation of Brad Pitt into a younger version of himself near the end of the film.

Yet the film falls down in taking so long to tell a story in which nothing very much happens, leaving one with much the same feeling as putting on a pair of warm socks straight from the tumble dryer; it's nice, but there's no particular point to it. Benjamin's curious case is merely a curiousity, to the point that none of the other characters in the film seem particularly amazed by his condition or indeed moved by it. Indeed his reverse aging seems almost incidental to what is in the end a simple love story - well told and beautiful to watch - but a simple story nonetheless.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a good but rather long film. It is not a great film, but its recipe contains just the right ingredients of big stars, an all-American romance, ironclad production values and careful marketing in the pre-awards ceremony season to make just the kind of movie-cookie the American public loves to snack on at this time of the year.