*Thank you ABS-CBN for inviting me to your special advanced screening
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is a film which you will either hate or like. As for me...uhm...(pause)...uhm...(pause)...ok...LIKE!
It was a well crafted film. But since it got the most number of Golben Globe nominations (tied with FROST/NIXON), I was expecting an award winning, stellar execution which, unfortunately, I wasn't able to see.
BENJAMIN BUTTON is like watching a patchy version of FORREST GUMP, plus a bit of ENGLISH PATIENT (minus the plum), plus a bit of Joel Lamangan's 2006 MMFF entry (yup, yup) BLUE MOON. Throw in a bit of MOULIN ROUGE as well, for those cool funny lightning snippets. I.e. Expect to see a lot of flashbacks, historical interstitials, diary reading, sick patients, twists and surprises (especially for the diary reader)
The film has a super solid backbone: a very unique story - a man aging backwards. But if you disect the film further, you will realize that the "story" is the only thing that is holding the film. Everything is else is typical, normal, plain and bland.
Thanks to good story telling, the film was able to stand on its own.
The lack of tension dragged the film. The only tension I can recall was when Benjamin had a child, which made him more of a playmate to his daughter than a father. Aside from that, it would just be a story a man looking for love. For me, 3-hours was just too long to see a man love and fail, then love and fail again. Sometimes I need to pinch myself to stay awake.
BENJAMIN BUTTON had difficulties in closing the itself - the downside of a "predictable" story (you know Benjamin will go younger and younger...then die). I think they had around 5 attempts to end the story...and it didn't help in extending my patience after 2 and a half hours. But the film was able to redeem itself through a dramatic montage before the credits. That sequence was a winner!
But there were several brilliant moments in the film worthy to be applauded: the Paris accident flashback, the reverse clock unveiling, the diary "discovery" (which part made me a bit teary) and the nice ending that closed all hanging stories properly. But because of the length of the film, they were not able to extend these "pockets of brilliance" throughout the 3-hours.
The acting was superb. Cate Blanchett is an expert (Oscars? Possible). Suprisingly, Brad Pit was great in the film.
Overall, good film. The material is fresh and the execution was ok. But with the Oscar buzz going around, the expectations for the film was lifted so high and in a sudden....it appeared mediocre.
FROST/NIXON will beat BENJAMIN BUTTON.