Please ask yourself the following three questions:
Do you believe in reincarnation and love nonsensical artsy dialogue?
Would you find Nicole Kidman attractive if she were dressed up like Anne Robinson, host of the television game show “The Weakest Link”?
Are you comfortable watching a naked ten year old actor climbing into a bathtub with a naked woman old enough to be his mother?
If you answered “YES...OH YES, THAT IS SO ME!!” to all three questions, or you’re interested in seeing just how nauseous a movie can make you, you might stand a remote chance of enjoying Birth. Otherwise, stay far, far away. It’s the kind of paradoxical film that will bore you to sleep while making you afraid to close your eyes for fear of reliving its perversely disturbing moments.
Ten years ago Anna (Nicole Kidman) lost the love of her life, her husband Sean. One afternoon he went out jogging and simply dropped dead for no apparent reason. After many long years of struggling to let Sean go, she at last accepts a proposal of marriage from her very patient, long time boyfriend Joseph (Danny Huston). Anna’s efforts to finally move on with her life come to a screeching halt when a ten year old boy (Cameron Bright) shows up at a family birthday party claiming to be Anna’s dead husband. More disturbing than his claim are the intimate details the boy knows about Anna and her life. Anna’s friends and family, baffled by the boy’s incredible knowledge, try to unravel the mystery before she destroys her engagement with Joseph. But every turn seems to point to the inevitable fact that the boy is Anna’s dead husband reincarnated. Meanwhile Anna finds herself falling hopelessly into a convoluted, not to mention illegal, relationship with him.
Forgive me if I got anyone’s hopes up by making the premise of this film seem interesting or worthwhile. It might be a little hard to believe, but this strange flick comes to us from the director of Sexy Beast and writer of Monster’s Ball. Despite the fascinating edginess of both those movies (not to mention that one of them defied logic by earning Halle Berry an Academy Award), this latest project combines the movie making masterminds behind both to produce a cinematic disaster.
Director Jonathan Glazer takes advantage of this movie to play terrible mind games with his audience. What could have been an eerie passion between Anna and Sean has instead become uber-creepy pedophilia in Glazer’s hands. He appears to take some kind of perverse pleasure in taunting his audience with whether or not he’s going to force them to watch Kidman getting it on with a ten year old kid. To top it off, the film subjects its watchers to one of the most uselessly gratuitous sex scenes ever to defile the screen.
While it’s a disappointment to see them involved, you can’t fault the high class actors in this movie for taking part in it. With its very quirky relationships and high tension scenes full of juicy moments of silence, it’s the kind of movie that creative actors kill to work on. Of course, that doesn’t do the audience any good. The cast may be having the time of their lives, but we the audience, are simply dying of boredom. It’s a real shame since Anne Heche and Lauren Bacall turn in stunning performances. Too bad no one’s ever going to see them.
Birth’s only real redeeming quality is its hauntingly beautiful cinematography and innovative score. Unfortunately, like a Picasso painting housed in a room filled to the ceiling with steaming piles of dog dung, it’s just not worth venturing in to see it.