Picks and Pans Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

UPDATED 12/22/2008 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/22/2008 at 01:00 AM EST

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Taraji P. Henson PG-13

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Here's a big, emotional movie that works, and does so beautifully. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button uses the very latest in digital special effects to bring dazzlingly to the screen the most old-fashioned of stories, one of a love that withstands the test of time. That's time in its most literal sense. The movie's hero, Benjamin Button (Pitt), is born an old man in a wizened infant's body and proceeds to age backward, growing ever more sprightly and gorgeous as the years pass. Meanwhile, everyone to whom he is close, including the woman (Blanchett) he loves for a lifetime, ages in the normal fashion. The film's key questions: Are we who we are, or merely the wrinkles we wear? And how do the passage of time and our life experiences change us?

Very loosely based on a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Button is directed with elegance and restraint by David Fincher (Fight Club). Pitt, whether grizzled or a radiant youth, gives an insightful performance that makes clear his character's growing understanding that, while nothing lasts, life is to be lived and love matters.

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