Birth Movie Review
Nicole Kidman and Cameron Bright, that creepy kid from Godsend, star in Birth, where Kidman is a widow who is about to be married again and Bright once again plays a kid seemingly possessed by a dead person - her late husband. Unfortunately, despite an intriguing presentation by director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), the movie lacks the content and character to excel at any level.
Kidman plays Anna, a woman who, ten years after losing her husband, is ready to marry again. As she and her soon-to-be husband Joseph (Danny Huston) celebrate their engagement, a 10-year old boy shows up at her home and claims to be her dead husband, Sean. What begins as absolute skepticism soon turns to undeniable believability and Anna begins to question everything in her life. But, is the kid really who he says he is, and, if he is, what can Anna do about it?
Despite its supernatural slant, Birth is a romantic drama from beginning to end - it is about undying love. Despite the fact the apparent Sean is in the form of a 10-year old kid, Anna finds herself falling in love again with her dead husband, regardless of whether the boy is truly that man. Unfortunately, the movie never really raises any serious questions and instead creates several characters who are almost impossible to relate to.
In the first half of the movie, Kidman is brilliant like usual. She acts with ease and Glazer spends long moments searching her eyes to show what she's thinking. Unfortunately, the second half, thanks mainly to the script, turns her character into an annoying, irrational and emotional woman - apparently, this is what love does to a person. Some of the choices she makes are difficult to accept and the transition from her doubting the boy to believing him is so quick we never get to see the transformation.
As for Bright, he is good, but the script never allows him to be anything of much interest; his character is very stale. Despite the fact this boy is seemingly Sean and has returned to claim his wife, he shows very little - if any - emotion. When people ask him questions that only the dead husband would know, he answers with short, dull answers that purposely explain little. Of course, none of these character traits can be blamed on Bright who is simply doing what the screenplay and director dictate, but wouldn't someone who has "returned" from the dead want to show all kinds of emotion and explain every little detail? Of course, that wouldn't be as cinematically appropriate...
Much like Kidman's performance, the first half of the movie is good and the second half wanes into boredom. Glazer executes a very slow and methodical approach; there are several long, one-shot scenes that play in tune to orchestra music. The music is terrific and, along with the cinematography, sets a good mood for the film, but halfway through the second act as the plot dulls and the characters separate from reality, Glazer's film work just seems to slow the movie down more. Ultimately, the long scenes end up being nothing more than a gimmick, which is unfortunate had Birth been gifted with a better screenplay.
More than anything else, though, Birth will only be interesting if you know what's in store. Many people went to go see this movie expecting a supernatural film, but Birth is purposely slow and thoughtful - a straight out romantic drama. If you're expecting it, you may enjoy it to an extent, though in the end the film drifts away from making its mark on the world.
Birth could have been something, but it needs to be rejuvenated with a different third act.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.