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Overall Rating
2.53

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 17.33%
Average: 13.33%
Pretty Bad: 21.33%
Total Crap34.67%

5 reviews, 45 user ratings


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Birth
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by robertrosado

"It's not possible. Is it?"
4 stars

The topic of reincarnation is one that has fascinated people for a long time. The idea that someone who has passed away can come back to life in another form is captivating, if somewhat creepy. In Jonathan Glaser’s (“Sexy Beast”) sophomore effort, we are presented the unusual story of a woman and a boy, and we are tempted to make up our minds on what is believable, and what is possible. It was almost as if Glaser was handing me this film, and asking me: “What do you think?”

Anna (Nicole Kidman) is preparing herself for her second marriage, to a successful businessman (Danny Huston). However, while Anna is attending her mother’s birthday party, a strikingly handsome and mature boy (Cameron Bright) enters the apartment, claiming that he is Anna’s late husband, Sean. Anna is soon plagued and seduced by the likelihood that this child could, in fact, be the love of her life.

Nicole Kidman is predictably excellent as Anna. As always, Kidman gives her character warmth and humanity, even if it is not there on the written page. As mentioned by other critics before me, Kidman has a breathtaking scene, set in an opera house. The camera holds a tight shot on her for several minutes, while expressions of puzzlement, anger, and maybe even relief, pass across her face. She doesn’t say a word in this scene, but I could tell what she was thinking. Canadian newcomer Cameron Bright ("Godsend") is alarmingly good in the demanding role of Sean. While there are some talented child actors (like, say, Haley Joel Osment), a good portion of them wear there emotions on their sleeve. In other words, they don’t understand the concept of subtlety, and therefore resort to histrionics, rather than serious dramatic choices. Bright understands his character, and handles it as well as any adult actor I’ve ever seen.

Anne Heche, with very little screen time, is powerful as Claire, a woman who may very well have something to do with all of this. Lauren Bacall (“The Mirror Has Two Faces”) is given slightly less to work with than Heche, but makes just as much of an impact. She is solid as Anna’s mother, and is also given some very funny lines. Danny Huston is very good as Joseph, but the character is thinly written. I was not given a sense of this man, nor was I given a reason to care about his outcome. It is to Huston’s credit that his character holds acceptable weight. Rounding out the impressive ensemble is Cara Seymour (“Adaptation”) and Ted Levine (“The Silence of the Lambs”), as Sean’s concerned parents, also Peter Stromare (“Fargo”), Alison Elliott (“The Spitfire Grill”), and Arliss Howard (“A Map of the World”).

Jonathan Glaser’s treatment of the material is, for lack of a better term, brave. This is not easy substance to make sense of, or to grasp with respect. Another notable scene is when Anna is lounging in her bathtub, when Sean enters. He systematically undresses and gets in, with her. She stares at him, and then asks, “What are you doing”? In lesser hands, this would have come off as comical. But Glaser, as well as his two lead actors, are mature enough to comprehend this situation and its place in the story. Alexandre Desplat’s (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) musical score isn’t what I expected it to be. In fact, it’s better. If there’s anything missing from the screenplay (written by Milo Addica, Jean-Claude Carrière, and Glaser), it would be a solid decision as to whether or not there is a supernatural element involved. There is evidence to support both options, but to give more away would be ill-advised.

“Birth” isn’t easy to like, nor does it give easy answers. Instead, the viewer is drawn into a net where nothing is exactly what it appears to be. Unlike so many others, I was not disappointed by the ending. In fact, even after the story’s true colors began to show at the beginning of the third act, I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something darker, something more sinister, underneath. With its complex nature and undeniably immaculate production values, "Birth" is one of the more misunderstood films of the year.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11087&reviewer=394
originally posted: 01/09/05 17:40:20
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User Comments

11/01/14 David Hollingsworth provocative and challenging 5 stars
2/11/14 Charles Tatum Unsettling and beautiful to look at. 5 stars
8/24/10 art NICOLE and CAMERON"S BATH SCENE the ONLY HIGHLIGHT! 2 stars
8/21/10 PAUL SHORTT EFFECTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER 3 stars
7/06/09 art a TEMPEST IN A TEACUP! 1 stars
6/22/09 Beefsolver A yawning chasm of failure. 5 stars
10/31/07 Abe Craaaaap-o-la!! 1 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Hilariously pretentious.Highbrow aspirations, street gutter results! 1 stars
5/01/07 gg Incredibly beautiful, dreamlike movie. Kidman's greatest performance. 5 stars
11/21/06 Alex Electrifying. Hauntingly beautiful. Nicole Kidman is truly a great actress. I loved movie 5 stars
8/23/06 barb what a total waste of my time! 1 stars
6/27/06 chienne another Kidman ballsup. God she's done some tripe - this is about the best 1 stars
3/09/06 mark this film was the most boring,badly acted,unbelievable pile of drivel i have ever seen. 1 stars
2/17/06 Alice Was ok, had good acting 4 stars
11/06/05 stephanie fuller characters' reactions to the situation were completely unbelievable and unrealistic. 1 stars
7/14/05 Monster W. Kung Got any doubt about Ebert's mental problems? He gave this 3.5 out of 4... 1 stars
7/07/05 Elizabeth Blackey Too slow. I would have said total crap except for Bright's performace - convincing. 2 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands Brilliant: Musical score, opening scene, Kidman's symphony closeup. Lame: Everything else. 4 stars
6/01/05 Michael Boring. 100 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. 1 stars
5/30/05 Ellie Since when is slow a bad thing? Gorgeous - a thinker. 5 stars
5/23/05 jasmine kennedy This movie is for an audience that thinks outside the box otherwise you wont get it. 4 stars
5/21/05 Ed Tuttle Held my attention all the way. Subtle tactics in addressing a touchy and deep subject:death 4 stars
5/19/05 John Bale A finely crafted enigmatic film that keeps you guessing and is beautiful to watch 5 stars
5/02/05 Teri STUPID 1 stars
4/30/05 Helen Bradley Kidman tried but very slow pace, not a thriller, boring 1 stars
4/26/05 Walt Kolander Too many draggy dead spots 2 stars
4/23/05 Jeff Anderson A disappointing film that goes nowhere. Kidman & Bright's brave & terrific acting SAVE IT!! 3 stars
4/10/05 Kristan anderson Very Slow.Story flows poorly and makes no sense. But, interesting. 3 stars
4/05/05 rags rolf junk 1 stars
2/05/05 Sierra Not a fan of Kidman, should not have bothered with this horrid garbage 1 stars
1/12/05 Danielle R. This movie was very good. Really creepy and thought-provoking. Kidman was stellar. 5 stars
1/09/05 this is a terrible ass movie Cameron Bright is a talentless piece of goddamn shit. Fuckin christ..please shoot him 1 stars
11/23/04 Kristina Williams Nicole Kidman is one of my favorites, but this was just bad. 1 stars
11/20/04 Mario Morales Excellent intense film not to be seen at home on DVD; Kidman's eyes are everthing 4 stars
11/16/04 Sophia Pretty Awful movie I must say. And I 'm a huge fan of Nicole Kidman. 1 stars
11/16/04 A F So....what.....is....your....zzzPOINT. Good opening sequence though. 1 stars
11/15/04 Alex This was a brilliant film, original and moving. 5 stars
11/14/04 Nadia Not bad. . .well except for the ending. 4 stars
11/14/04 Grendel Dreadful, unbelievable nonsense, end titles were very welcome 1 stars
11/13/04 Naka Difficult premise, but someone w/ skill coulda done it. Not these jackasses. 1 stars
11/05/04 Mereyana we were hoodwinked...perported 2 b what it wasn't 2 stars
11/03/04 Stevo I liked the creepiness, but wouldn't recommend it to my Mom 4 stars
11/02/04 Mariah Montgomery Beautiful and effective. 5 stars
10/31/04 MovieMikeKC By far the worst movie I have seen in years. Forced artsy-fartsy crap ! 1 stars
10/23/04 Ray Regular 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 19-Apr-2005

UK
  05-Nov-2004 (15)

Australia
  28-Apr-2005 (MA)




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