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2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
Birth [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 July 2017
This 2004 drama Sean and Anna (Nicole Kidman) are a married couple but Sean collapses, and dies. Ten years later, Anna has just accepted a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Joseph (Danny Huston) and is approached by a young boy who claims to be her deceased husband reincarnated.
The plot, set designs and acting are all fine, the music is well suited, although it is sometimes becomes an annoying droning, while the dark and sombre tones don’t exactly help the film along. That’s not helped by the fact that the script seems fragmented, jumping points which could easily be explained better [eg Seans death at the start]. The film is really an emotional journey about desire, deceit, obsession, frustration, self delusion and even revenge, but the pace is often plodding with too many artistic ‘silences’.
The disc offers play, scene selection, theatrical trailer and set up [5.1/2.0, English subtitles on/off]. Rated 15 this does not have swearing but there is an inexplicit extended sex scene in the first quarter which has bare buttocks and a nipple and sexual themes involving a young boy, including him sharing a bath with Anna and some ‘domestic’ style violence. The final scenes with Clara [Anne Heche] actually explains it all if you’ve paid attention and the remainder pulls this back from being a mediocre flop. I’d like to give more, but can’t justify top marks.
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on 13 January 2017
Unshakeable faith in a love or the mocking face of reason?
Kidman excels in understatement and conviction.
A boy finds and reads love letters, then with acquired insight projects as deceased husband to widow, who falls under his deceptive spell.
End scene revels emotional toll on the heart (well played out by Kidman).
Roll of child actor tad one dimensional for max effect.
3.5 stars.
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on 16 June 2016
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 5 February 2012
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.
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on 12 September 2017
The director obviously believes he is Stanley Kubrick and indeed has purloined some of Kubrick's motifs - except not, as he is a shallow poseur and poor Nicole (fine actress) is reduced. I believe Jonathan Glazer should do us a favour and shoot himself, as Lars Van Trier can be a tosser also, but on occasions can make a masterpiece of a film. like Dogville also starring the resplendent Nicole Kidman. Get yourself a less demanding job Glazer. A glazier for example.
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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.
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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.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 March 2015
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
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on 10 April 2006
Birth is a highly disturbing film, with beautiful silences. The opening scene, of a man jogging through stunning black and white scenery, makes you feel you are right there with him, though his face is never seen, and the final moments of his run are so lonely and raw. The child who played Shaun had the most astonishing composure; his calm beauty was essential for the credibility of an ultimately ridiculous plot. Having said that, it held me the whole way through. It was one of those films where nobody SAID much and obvious questions were not asked but somehow you were drawn into their world. I won't forget this film for a long time.
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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.
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