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Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The


Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Jared Harris

Director: David Fincher

A much heavier film that the title would suggest, this ponderous yarn, based on a story by F Scott Fitzgerald which even the great author might have had to admit was pure moonshine, posits the idea of a person born wizened and old as a baby, still elderly as a boy, but growing younger by the year - and ambles along with it for the next 166 minutes.

The end is admittedly moving, but it takes an unconscionable long while to get there. The title character's played by various actors early on, with Brad Pitt assuming the reins for the body of the film, and giving a pretty decent performance, as does Cate Blanchett as the sweetheart of his 'old' childhood who has to become reconciled to the fact that when they finally coincide in their early forties, she'll be growing older while he just gets progressively younger. Tilda Swinton also shines in a comparatively brief but striking role.

Fortunately, the rambling narrative is interrupted by some action half-way through, when Benjamin, now a seaman on a tugboat skippered by the roistering Captain Mike (Jared Harris), gets involved in a World War two battle with an enemy submarine.

The ageing process is quite nicely done (as are Blanchett's dance scenes), but that isn't enough by itself to keep your attention fixed on this ambitious (tall) story throughout.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers (Warner/Paramount). Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
166 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 31 Jan 2009