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Overall Rating

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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by EricDSnider

"Putting the 'kid' in 'Kidman.'"
3 stars

"Birth" is not a comedy, but it's impossible to take it seriously, either. It is about a woman who comes to believe that a 10-year-old boy is the reincarnation of her dead husband, which means there are scenes in which the grown woman and the little boy make moon eyes at each other. There is also a scene, I am sorry to report, in which the woman and the boy take a bath together, though thankfully there is no questionable behavior beyond that. (I think the bath is questionable enough, thank you.)

It takes care and precision to make an audience go along with a premise as peril-fraught as this one, and "Birth" doesn't quite manage it. Director Jonathan Glazer, whose debut picture "Sexy Beast" demonstrated his skill, though not the subtlety he would need for this sophomore effort, goes to great lengths to make "Birth" seem like a respectable art-house film that has somehow wandered into the multiplex. The musical score is classical, the title fonts are elegant, the characters are generally quiet and restrained -- this is a film that wants very much to be admired, not giggled at. But Glazer is hamstrung by Milo Addica ("Monster's Ball") and Jean-Claude Carriere's oh-so-European and oh-so-absurd script.

Nicole Kidman, sporting a dreadfully mannish haircut, stars as Anna, a wealthy, repressed Manhattanite whose wealthy, repressed family is thrilled to see her newly engaged to a wealthy, repressed man named Joseph (Danny Huston). Anna's husband Sean, a college professor (wealthy and repressed, one assumes), died 10 years ago and Anna still bears the scars of that loss.

Old wounds are reopened when a young boy (Cameron Bright) shows up at Anna's family's penthouse during the engagement party and tells her he is Sean -- HER Sean, the one who died. His name really is Sean, that's easily verified; he's the son of a working-class couple in Brooklyn. But Anna's-dead-husband-Sean? He's certainly morose and somber enough to be part of the family, but still. No one believes in reincarnation, least of all Anna. Except then she begins thinking about it, and she talks to the boy, and she starts wanting to believe. Her family -- including Lauren Bacall as her mother, Peter Stormare as dead Sean's brother and Anne Heche as dead Sean's sister-in-law -- is appalled.

These are people who, being characters in a film that is always in danger of teetering over the edge into unintentional hilarity, cannot come right out and say the things they're thinking, the things WE would be thinking. They don't ask the questions they should ask. To do so would be to reduce the film from high-concept drama to lowbrow comedy. Even as it is, it often inspires embarrassed laughter. Nicole Kidman is an amazing actress, and her performance here is top-notch, but I doubt there is a child actor alive who could pull off the Sean role with the sincerity and believability it requires.

Is Sean really Anna's dead husband? I like the direction the film takes with that issue; it's certainly not what I expected. The problem is, it dawdles too long before it finally gets there. More than halfway through the film, we're still at the stage where Anna is telling him, "You're not my husband, you'll get over me when you meet someone your own age." The answers finally come, but they're too little, too late.

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originally posted: 11/08/04 17:17:27
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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
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 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
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  29-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 19-Apr-2005

  05-Nov-2004 (15)

  28-Apr-2005 (MA)

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