David Fincher: Ranking His Movies From Worst To Best
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
I, and many others, have previously written about how David Finchers films typically carry an air of toughness with them. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, however, is the exception to that rule. A strange cross between bizarre morality fairy tale and straight up Oscar-Bait, Benjamin Button looks great and features some stunning visual effects, but when you watch the film you cant help but feel that somethings missing, some strand of emotion for us to invest in so that the story (and there's a lot of it) all holds together. Following the life of a man (Benjamin Button, played by a reserved Brad Pitt) whos born elderly and grows younger as his life passes, the film muses on how time affects us, our relationships, and the way we see the world. However, while Benjamin Button presents the obvious conundrums that come with aging backwards, the film never dives deeper than these surface problems and hits the emotional nerve it seems to be aiming for. In many ways it is a doomed love story, not just of a man and woman but of a man and the world around him, and how his love for it never seems to sync correctly with his age. But the film is also full of unnecessary melodrama (the useless, overplayed style of the frame narrative) and symbolism so forced that you can practically feel Fincher smacking you in the head with a stick (most notably when we see a butterfly flapping its wings in vain against a coming storm). In the past, one feels that Fincher wouldve avoided the cheap emotional tactics that weave their way through the film and just made a brutally honest movie about an unfair life and its complications. That wouldve been a tough film, the kind Fincher has made before, and it probably wouldve captured the emotion that he failed to capture with Benjamin Button. Its not a bad film, but its a strange one, most of all because of how little it affects us when its over.