Birth


Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Written by:Milo Addica, Jean-Claude Carriere, Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright, Danny Huston, Lauren Bacall, Anne Heche, Peter Stormare
Released: April 28, 2005
Grade: A-

Birth opens with a lengthy shot of a man running in a snow-filled park.  He reaches a tunnel, slows his pace, then collapses on the ground.  These are the final moments in Sean’s life.

Ten years have now passed and Sean’s wife, Anna (Kidman) is set to remarry.  She never truly recovered from the loss of her husband but has finally been persuaded by her new suitor, Joseph (Huston), to marry him.  Wedding preparations are underway.

At a birthday party in her upper-class apartment, a 10-year-old boy lets himself in.  He tells the guests that he wants to speak with Anna.  Taking her into the kitchen, this eerily docile child introduces himself as Sean, her husband.  Believing it to be a cruel joke, Anna wants nothing to do with the boy and has him removed from the premises.  But when he appears again the following day and reveals intimate details of their marriage, Anna starts considering the impossible…

I never expected it but Birth has become a film I will not easily forget.  It is the first film of 2005 that has forced me to think and explore outside of the theatre.  For some, the crux of the film will be whether Sean truly is a reincarnated version of Anna’s late husband.  If you’ve seen the movie and think you know the answer, think again.  It’s open to a wide interpretation and I have read over 20 different opinions on the internet.  It isn’t in the same class but the film’s greyness reminds me of my favourite film of 2003, Mulholland Drive.

I’ve debated whether the ambiguity is a result poor scripting or whether it’s a direct decision on the part of the writers not to reveal all.  I’m happy to support the later theory when you consider the film has been co-written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, the man responsible for the awesome Sexy Beast (with Ben Kingsley).  There’s a great film if you haven’t already seen it.

Glazer’s direction is confronting but well suited.  There are many awkward silences and intense close-ups.  When the music does arrive, it’s a beautifully chilling piano melody from French composer Alexandre Desplat (Girl With A Pearl Earring).  Having been impressed with the cinematography, it came as no surprise to see Harris Savides (Elephant) credited with the work.  I’d love to have him work on any film of mine!

Nicole Kidman is stirring in the role and delivers a much better performance than that in The Interpreter.  Also powerful is the presence of 12-year-old Cameron Bright (Godsend).  It must have been a difficult decision by his parents to let him star in a film featuring such adult content.  The media has unnecessarily surrounded the film with controversy as there is a scene in which Kidman and Bright share a bath together.  Don’t be perturbed and think this is a showcase for paedophiles.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.

With many layers and much to talk about, Birth is a treat for moviegoers.  What you take away from it, is up to you.