In her A- review, Lisa Schwarzbaum says Benjamin Button is “an extravagantly ambitious movie that’s easy to admire but a challenge to love.”
A different director might have emphasized sentimentality in the manner of a Robin Williams weepy with a message: We’re all going to die, so love while you get a chance! Instead, Fincher’s innate astringency ‚Äî his hardness, even, which he has put to such varied effect over the years in Fight Club, Seven, and Zodiac ‚Äî becomes exactly the kind of tonic needed to balance the sweet/tart proportions of so audacious a cinematic project.
Here, Lisa puts her finger on the button.
At any moment in this singular Hollywood spectacle, two marvels predominate, one technical and the other…Bradical. The movie has been in the works for years, pored over by Fincher like a favorite fairytale from his childhood. But only now has computer-driven wizardry matured enough to meet the story’s challenges so unobtrusively. Likewise, Pitt, a comely actor, is no longer the golden surprise he was 18 years ago in Thelma & Louise. What he is, though, is a phenomenon of heightened celebrity. And that rarified status, combined with good grooming and exquisite digital effects care, produces the exact force field of fame needed to take our breath away in that first moment on screen when, rid of gray hair, Benjamin is bathed in light that honors the movie-star beauty Pitt is. Was. Is.