18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2009
Let's get the downside out of the way first. Yes, to be honest, the plot is rather thin and when the film has finished will inspire a fair amount of disbelief in those who care to exmaine the story.
But on the upside, whilst you are immersed in the fim's wonderful cinematography, its bleak pallette of wintery colours and grainy visuals, those long, still scenes, and the moody, hypnotic soundtrack, you will be sucked into the atmosphere of suspense and mystery.
Don't listen to all the naysayers, this film is well worth a watch. Lock Stock and 2 Smoking barrels it certainly isn't (as a 1 star reviewer unfairly compared it to). If that's you're kind of film then go and watch something else. If you want to explore a different kind of film making, one with style, substance and scenes of quiet contemplation, then watch Birth.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This film has such a strong sense of atmosphere, the confusion of its heroine is so palpable, that I found it both hypnotic and moving. Nicole Kidman gives a superb performance as a woman in an acute state of crisis, and there is real pain in her predicament, as well as a strange sense of bluff at the absurdity of its premise. It is this mystery that the film sustains so beautifully, and the camerawork supports it brilliantly, creating an Upper West Side all in refined tones, both cosseted and as opaque as the emotions of its inhabitants. Kidman is gazelle-like in appearance and sensitive to every least gesture. A scene at a concert finds her reduced to a state of nervous collapse as the music expresses her tumult of feeling, and the camera holds her face for what seems like a very long time, but the strange power that is built up remains with you. As does the final scene on the beach, the meaning of which was not entirely clear to me, but it was no less moving for not being entirely fathomable. These last few minutes have a feeling few films can generate and are the mark of the very distinctive spell the film casts. The boy is also well cast and the scenes he has with Kidman have a highly original tone with a sense of the comic - there is no other film quite like it.
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2006
Birth died a death (pardon the pun) before it was even released due to unwelcome and hysterical publicity at its suggestion of sexual relations between a grown woman and a ten-year-old boy. Something of a flop, I watched it without any specific expectations or prejudices about its premise and was pleasantly surprised. As often with more elegaic, slow-moving films, you get a raft of irate reviewers on Amazon screaming about how bored they were as if they have been personally affonted. Maybe they were expecting something from Nicole Kidman on the level of Bewitched or The Stepford Wives? This is not conventional Hollywood - but more (perhaps self-consciously) European in style, darkly symbolic in the mold of Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Innocence - with shades of David Lynch and Luis Bunuel.
Richly atmospheric, with an uncanny performance by Cameron Bright as the possible reincarnation of Nicole Kidman's dead husband, it is a chilling examination of loss and grief. Although it operates on one level as a supernatural thriller, there are more subtle currents at work here that less imaginative filmgoers like to dismiss as boring or pretentious. Allow yourself to be pulled into the sombre mood, however, and stop expecting things 'To Happen', and you might be rewarded with something deeper and more nuanced. If you don't have much of an attention span or a capacity to enjoy films which aren't supposed to be treated as literal, then you should avoid this. 'Birth' has its faults, but it doesn't deserve the vitriolic abuse it has received here.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2009
Seeing this film for the second time recently allowed me to take my focus off the plot development and simply soak up the ambience. I can easily understand the dislike for this film, but certainly not around the bath scene. Anna did not seem to me to be embarking on a sexual relationship with a 10 year old. She clearly states she would wait 11 years till he was legally an adult.
I particularly enjoyed the cinematography, soundtrack and a fantastic performance by Anne Heche, with her underscore of violence.
All in all a great, bleak thoughtful film. I loved the ending.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I remember when it was released in 2004, there was a big hurrah about "the" bath scene, many vitriolic complaints about how slow it was, how not scary it was et al. Birth is many wonderful film making things, of course not all of those things will resonate or enthral many of the movie watching populace, yet there is such craft on both sides of the camera here, and an atmospherically ambiguous bloodline pulsing throughout, that marks it out as a particularly striking film.
Plot finds Nicole Kidman as Anna, who is about to be re-married but finds her world tipped upside down when a young boy (Cameron Bright) arrives on the scene and announces he is the reincarnation of her dead first husband...
Director Jonathan Glazer and his co-writers Jean-Claude Carrière & Milo Addica are purposely being vague, I mean lets face it, the topic to hand is exactly that, vague, and ripe for countless hours of discussion. The film simmers along deftly, meditations on love, grief and anger are skilfully portrayed by all involved. Even a birthing tunnel metaphor doesn't come off as self indulgent, from the off Glazer wants and gets those interested in the story to buy into the hypnotic qualities on show. To jump on board with Anna's fragility while all around her battle for rhyme or reason with her mindset.
In truth it's a hard sell as a piece of entertainment, there's still today, over a decade since it was released, people miffed that the hinted at supernatural elements are not key to the narrative. While the thin line of good and bad taste - and maybe even pretentiousness - is being tested by the makers, but the charges of Birth being dull are just wrong. It never shows its hand, the mystery always remains strong, while Kidman and Lauren Bacall are reason enough to admire the acting craft on show.
Hated by many, inducing even anger in some quarters, Birth is a tantalising picture. A conundrum designed to get a response, for better or worse. 8/10
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I`m baffled and saddened by the many and apparently outraged reviews of this intelligent and ultimately moving film that I`ve read here. Jonathan Glazer should be applauded for all three of his films so far, this being bookended by his superb debut Sexy Beast and his latest, the astounding Under The Skin.
Birth, with its fine, emotionally raw, sensitive central performance by Nicole Kidman, is a film for grown-ups, about grief and delusion. In no way does it exploit the actor who plays young boy who appears and claims to be Kidman`s dead husband, as some seem to think. (The infamous bath scene, for example, was shot in such a way that what happens on screen is not what actually happened on set. There are, naturally, rules about such things.)
Glazer is one of the very few British directors now working - McQueen, Leigh and Winterbottom are three others - who are not content to trot out endless Full Monty/Calendar Girls/Made In Dagenham variations. Those kind of films have their place, and can be both fun and to some extent illuminating, but great cinema they are not. He should be applauded for pushing the boat out more than almost any director from these shores has been willing to do in recent decades. (How Michael Powell would, I`m sure, have approved.)
This has an eclectic cast, including Danny Huston, Lauren Bacall, and the always excellent Anne Heche, but it`s Kidman who commands one`s attention throughout. She`s never been an actress to avoid a challenge - for evidence, see To Die For, The Others, or the more recent The Paperboy - and here she gives her all to a difficult role in an offbeat film.
The plot is both simple and complex, and I merely urge the interested - those who are not easily outraged! - to see this remarkable, adult, thoughtful and thought-provoking film. It`s by no means perfect, but it is different, and very rewarding.
The ending - which Glazer apparently couldn`t decide on until late in the day - is enigmatic, as is much of the film, but it`s pleasingly open-ended, in a bittersweet way.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2012
Why are people still so closed off in mind, from talking abut challenging concepts and imagery in our modern experience? I find it amazing how many people are giving this film one star seemingly based on "disturbing scenes".
Personally speaking, i find this film incredibly thought provoking, life affirming and, above all, moving. Appearances are deceptive here, take the fact that Anna, despite the passing of time since her husband's death- in which she has found a new love, she still harbors a longing for the return of that love which was ripped out of her world. This of course is centrally linked to the young boy, apparently the "Re-incarnated" form of her husband- again the literal appearance of the boy is rather the antithesis to what he is revealed to be later on (through the narrative/ what he knows about Anna, and her previous "life" with her dead husband). What follows is her infatuation with discovering the truth behind the mystical presence which this young soul exudes- including a very bizarre but at the same time fascinating scene in which, so captivated is she with the nostalgia of her husband this boy presents, enters into a bathtub with him- both fully undressed!! Although i can see why some would recoil from this- i found it to be utterly convincing that this character IS so believing of the fact that this boy may be her husband that she is willing to do something so strange and abhorrent. In short- whether this boy IS her dead husband or not is not really the point- this film is a subtle and haunting examination of the human soul and humanity, it conveys the devastating effect when you lose the one you love.
The central theme is explored through several mediums and characters- the birth of her new life after she loses her husband, the juxtaposition of adult and child and the mood of the film echoes notions of intense spiritual pain.
I would just like to also comment on the striking use of snow covered landscapes in this film which serves to mirror the feelings of isolation and bleakness that Anna feels when she contemplates that the young boy is telling the truth and all her loved ones promptly abandon her in disgust - also being white it seems to suggest that the colours wondering around above it in the form of people, cars, trees etc are almost like the stains of childbirth on bed linen, again this in turn familiarizes itself with the tragedy that like a messy birth- her husband's death has left her forever stained, messed up (for want of a better word) and fighting for her survival.
And not for one second do i think that my review has done this fantastic film justice!!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2007
This film is more about human emotions [externally+internal] than anything else! If you can't appreciate an actors performance without them doing some action scene or over the top emotional wreck scene then you won't understand this film! Nicole Kidman's scene while she sits in the cinema is just - well no words describe - you have to watch for yourself!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2014
Firstly Glazer's second film does have its flaws, some of the dialogue is a little forced, only a couple of lines but once you except this you can sit and enjoy a strange tale of love, hope, death and rebirth. Again Glazer nods his head to Kubrick yet doesn't make this connection too obvious, Kidman has never been better, I honestly believe this is one of her best performances. Danny Huston is also excellent. Beautifully shot with an exquisite soundtrack, a troubling love letter to grief.
87 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2005
Criticised last year in the U.S because of its sensitive nature, Birth is a tender, intense and sometimes gripping drama from director Jonathon Glazer.It tells the story of anna(kidman) who, ten years after her husbands death, is about to remarry (huston) but has a chance meeting with a ten year old boy who claims is her husband re-incarnate-at first anna shrugs off the statement as proposterous , but as the woman and boy become close, anna starts to doubt herself and her own beliefs. Birth is a subtle and convincing tale of a woman still grieving after 10 years and the film itself has some moments that perfectly capture the fragility of human emotion-superbly performed by the three leads and supporting cast of anne heche and lauren bacall,with an inspired score by alexandre desplat and truly gorgeous visuals filmed in and around new york, Birth is a genuinely engaging and beautiful film entirely un-deserved of any claims of 'in-decent material' as one american journalist said.