Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2008. Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, The Kennedy/Marshall Company. Story by Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, Screenplay by Eric Roth, based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cinematography by Claudio Miranda. Produced by Cean Chaffin, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Donald Graham Burt. Costume Design by Jacqueline West. Film Editing by Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall. Academy Awards 2008. American Film Institute 2008. Golden Globe Awards 2008. Screen Actors Guild Awards 2008.
Southern-style tall-tales, genuine romance and a rich sense of nostalgia permeate this highly engrossing, free adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name. Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is born under the most unusual circumstances: he begins life as an old man and gradually grows younger until his death as an infant. Raised by the senior-home maid (Taraji P. Henson) who found him after he was abandoned by his father (Jason Flemyng), he sees the world, enjoys a romance with a lonely, older British woman (Tilda Swinton) and for his whole life burns for the love of a girl he met as a child. She grows up to be a ballerina (Cate Blanchett) and he grows no less fond of her as their paths cross and create a romance that tries to define the limits of time. “Nothing lasts” is the central theme of this film, and its bittersweet truth is everywhere: in the moments of beauty when Blanchett dances, in the experiences Pitt has while traveling around the globe, and in the fleeting happiness he shares with his lady love. It’s a film deeply saturated with feeling, daringly three hours long but its pace is never boring nor its sentiments trite or cheesy. The performances are terrific, the visual effects are impressive, and the fact that David Fincher has followed so many cold films with this lovely, unjaded valentine is probably the film’s most incredible surprise.
The Criterion Collection: #476