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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Life isn't measured in minutes, but in moments. 

Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (Academy) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by David Fincher 
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond  
An image from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button features Brad Pitt as a man “born under unusual circumstances.” The film begins with the elderly Daisy Williams (Cate Blanchett) on her deathbed asking her adult daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) to read her aloud the letters and diary entries of her lifelong friend. What follows is the account of the extraordinary life of Button who, born in his eighties, gradually ages backwards until he dies in the body of a newborn child.

David Fincher is a director who doesn’t shy away from the unusual (Fight Club), the controversial (Se7en), and the macabre (Zodiac) so it seems fitting that he should take the reins on such a unique story. Although the film’s running time is just shy of three hours, it never feels tiresome due to the accomplished narrative control exercised by Fincher, who uses every minute of screen time to full effect, without dawdling or indulging. The similarities with Forrest Gump are uncanny, not least of all because they share the same screenwriting talent in Eric Roth. Like Gump, Button is a largely passive character who becomes entwined in worldly events; he finds himself enlisted in World War II, with Pearl Harbour marking an abrupt end to his relationship with Elizabeth (Tilda Swinton).

Button’s life is tinged with melancholy and the shadow of death, and his relationship with Daisy is bittersweet and transient, given their opposite paths into childhood and adulthood. Fincher’s mastery of narration would be superfluous without the astonishing special effects work integrated into the film in such a way that after the initial novelty, the CGI aids feel seamless. Benjamin Button is a visually stunning film with a strong cast and a narrative that is as engaging as it is lugubrious.

Laura Potter

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)
2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)