From the haunting opening to the heartbreaking ending... this film is an absolute masterpiece. Everything from the acting to the cinematography is stunning. It is extremely unfortunate that more attention was focused on the now infamous bath scene between Kidman and Cameron Bright. The scene is uncomfortable, no-doubt, but it is supposed to be. At no point is Anna Nicole Kidman completely relaxed in the company of this child who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. The inclusion of this scene and the later 'kiss' scene simply add to this feeling of confusion and raw <more>
emotion that Anna is experiencing. What better way to tap into viewer emotions than to have a 10-year-old tenderly kiss a grown woman - it's an idea that is guaranteed to evoke strong feelings! The fact that we do not dismiss the reincarnation idea as completely ludicrous owes much to the fantastic acting - not just by Kidman but by the supporting cast also. Lauren Bacall is truly wonderful as Kidman's sarcastic mother. Kidman & Bacall are a fantastic double act, with their performances bouncing off each others perfectly. Both Kidman and Bacall have said that they feel like mother and daughter off-screen, which is evident in this movie. At times, you feel like a fly-on-the-wall watching a supporting but disbelieving mother trying to help her heartbroken daughter. This adds yet more to the personal, emotional tone of the picture. Anne Heche gives her best performance in years as the friend-with-a-secret. Cameron Bright is a real talent and is even more impressive when you realize how little dialogue he actually has. Through facial expressions and actions he acts jealousy, pain, hatred and love wonderfully well for such a youngster. However, it is Kidman who yet again shows that she is one of the best actors of our generation. She is along side Meryl Streep as someone who astounds us time and time again... If ever one scene could represent her astonishing talent, it is the 'Opera-scene'. The camera stays on Kidman's face for nearly a minute - in this minute, every emotion Anna is feeling is expressed through Kidman's face. It is stunning and, if any scene should have overshadowed this incredible movie, it should have been this one! Kidman is astoundingly good - the final scene is truly one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever sat through. The ending I mentioned doesn't explain everything to us - how Anna ends up is left to our own imagination. This is by far the most moving, though-provoking, superbly acted movie of the year. Anyone who gets the chance should see it and if the Academy Oscars ignore this - they really are as arrogant, small-minded and stupid as they seem!
A brilliant glance on death and the what-if (by e_robertg)
This movie was a masterpiece in every way. I initially left with a sour taste in my mouth after viewing the ending. I then watched the movie again and caught some of the more subtle cues, words and actions happening in this movie.The Kubrickian opening scene was beautifully shot and evoked this powerful sense of a journey about to unfold. There are several scenes where Nicole Kidman delivers quite possibly the most powerful performance she has ever delivered and without the use of her voice. She pulls this off so well and it gives a good sense of what the rest of her performance has in store. <more>
An unsung hero in this film is the young child actor Cameron Bright. His performance was equally as astonishing. He was able to convey the adult mind intermixed with the mental faculties of a child. This Mr. Reincarnation was accurate down to the smallest details of how his actions should be as an adult while also displaying how his vehicle was still that of a child's. He was conflicted and equally abound with thought as Anna, Nicole Kidman's character. The duality was shown towards the end specifically when they were both shown taking portraits.The musical score by Alexandre Desplat blends so extremely well with this movie and conveys even more powerfully those scenes where voice is not available to convey each of the actor's unheard emotions. The opening shot is one of the best examples of how well it completes the movie.I believe you'll have to have an observant eye and an open mind to fully appreciate this film. The ending may seem unfulfilling or open ended but in a sense it is quite conclusive. The ending does leave enough room to view it in different ways however.In short, I recommend this film to those who can fully appreciate films that make you think and which offer a beautiful composition of both music, images and story.
Moments of Great Cinema. A beautifully crafted film. (by johnmbale)
This is an thought provoking elegiac film that has moments of great cinema. For example the long opening tracking shot of the jogger seen monochromatically against snow, and the close shot of Nicole Kidman's face registering her emotions and uncertainty to the powerful music of Wagner in the concert hall, would do credit to Orson Welles. The story is unsettling and is never quite explained, we are lead to believe that a 10 year old boy is the reincarnation of Anna's Nicole Kidman long dead husband Sean. The strange boy appears on the scene as Anna intends to remarry a wealthy suitor <more>
Joseph. Young Sean as played by Cameron Bright is remarkable. Is he for real or is he a fraud ? A strange attachment begins between Anna and the little boy, culminating in the much discussed bath sequence. This unease and constant suggestion of the supernatural versus conspiracy is maintained right to the last enigmatic scene. More effective than many of the recent ghostly films revolving around children including The Sixth Sense and The Others another Nicole Kidman vehicle . The elegant presentation with fine muted Autumnal Cinematography, precise editing, and superb music, works extremely well, although some may find the pacing a trifle slow. I didn't, and indeed when violence breaks out it is all the more starting, as when Joseph attacks Sean with a piano in the dining room. A strong cast including Lauren Bacall work well together, but in the end it's the sequences between Kidman and Bright that remain most intriguing. Jonathan Glazer is a director to watch, he should go far.
If you see Birth, go in realizing it is an art-house film, not a mainstream thriller. If it didn't have Nicole Kidman in it, this film would be playing in less than 10 theaters in the country. But because of Kidman, it is playing in your local cineplex but this is not a film for the cineplex crowd. If you are looking for something like The Others, The Sixth Sense, or Ghost; do not see this film. Birth is a film where atmosphere means more that dialog. This is not a fun film. The people in the film are very deadpan and do not smile; especially the child. Much has been made of the bath <more>
scene but that is actually one of the least radical parts of this film. The thing that will upset most people are the long close-ups without any dialog. Also, the conclusion does not tie up as many loose ends as a mainstream film. This film wants the viewer to think about it afterwards.Nicole Kidman and Lauren Bacall are great but for me, Anne Heche almost stole the film with her small part. Also, the music is atmospheric and a real treat if you like symphonic music.This is a beautiful film to look at and listen to. The story will keep you guessing which direction it is going to go. Whether you are happy with the outcome or not will probably depend on your expectations. Go into this film with an open mind. 9/10
Ah, there's nothing like a movie that impresses me to great length but leaves me unable to think up a clever summary line that's not a massive cliché. That being said, it's interesting that the movie does revolve around a series of clichés and yet manages to come off as something completely fresh and original. Nicole Kidman reprises another role in a tremendously well-made thriller after the hugely impressive The Others, this time taking on what is sure to be the controversial role of Anna, a woman approaching a marriage clearly designed more to forget the death of her previous <more>
husband rather than the pursuit of true love.One day at a family birthday party, a 10-year-old boy wanders into the house, no one knows who he is, and he says his name is Sean. He's very cryptic and stolid, which gives him the supernatural aura that he needs in order to give Anna just enough pause and the audience just enough reason to believe that he might be who he says he is. His real name really is Sean, but he gradually begins to convince people that he is the reincarnation of Anna's dead husband, whose name was also Sean.The reason that the movie is so successful with a plot like this is that it treats it with the respect that it deserves, you might say. The characters react in a way that you would expect people in real life to behave. Anna asks the boy not to bother her anymore, her fiancé wants to talk to the boy's parents, they even invite him to a wedding rehearsal so that he can hear the music and know for real that Anna is marrying her fiancé, Joseph Danny Huston .Speaking of her fiancé, theirs is a curious relationship. Movies have a tendency to create couples that audiences are eager to see split up when there is someone else that one of them is supposed to be with. Consider, for example, Julia and her idiot boyfriend Glen in The Wedding Singer, or, one of the comedy classics, Princess Vespa's charming groom from Spaceballs. We see the same thing in Birth, this time done very effectively and with the effect of adding to the mystery of the little boy. Clearly, someone with whom Anna so clearly does not belong cannot seriously end up with her at the end of the movie, right? This is such an unconvincing couple that it's easier to believe in a coupling or Anna with the 10-year-old Sean than with this guy.I was shocked to read one IMDb reviewer respond with cynicism at what is surely the most daring and memorable shot in the film. Early in the film, after Sean has appeared and claimed to be Anna's dead husband, everyone laughs it off as a the meanness and thoughtlessness of a childish prank. They get dressed up and go out to see an orchestra, and the camera slowly moves in on Anna's clearly distressed face. They've laughed the boy off, but he has planted possibility in her head and it's now impossible for her to get it out. Once the camera moves in closely enough so that her face fills the screen, it remains there motionless during an entire orchestra song, something like three solid minutes. No words, no movement, just Anna's face and the music. This is unheard of in Hollywood movies, and is by far the most brilliant shot in the movie.One foolish reviewer from Austin, Texas wrote this off as the annoying pretentiousness of the director, only able to come to the conclusion that maybe it was an art-house moment. This is what I love and hate about the IMDb. I can see a movie do something new and interesting, and then I log on to the IMDb and can always find someone who says something so dumb that I almost fall out of my chair. This is a rare moment of true acting brilliance in a Hollywood movie, and some jerk writes it off as pretentious. Unbelievable. Not only does Nicole Kidman face the task of conveying a massive amount of conflicting emotions all at once, and not only does she have to do it without moving, talking, gesturing, almost without even blinking, but she pulls it off flawlessly. She incredibly holds her emotion just on the verge of tears, red-eyed and in an emotional thunderstorm but just barely concealing it from her husband. And for three minutes! Rarely do film actors get such chances to prove the sheer extent of their acting skills, and Kidman is absolutely amazing. The final act of the movie is sure to let some people down, but I don't really think it takes away from the rest of the movie too much. It is brilliantly shot, Cameron Bright delivers another surprisingly creepy performance, even surpassing his work in Godsend with Robert DeNiro, and is now surely the most popular kid in his 5th grade class since he got to sit in a bathtub with Tom Cruise's naked ex-wife. The effectiveness of the movie is made most clear not by the extent of the reactions that Sean gets from Anna and her family, but from the fact that those reactions are perfectly believable. The adults react like real people would, and Cameron Bright is so good in his role that it's easy to accept that they become less and less sure whether or not they should write him off as just a kid playing a trick. The film leaves open a lot of questions, as I should think is to be expected, but even the questions that are left unanswered are at least acknowledged.
There's a scene in this that will feature in film school classes for a long time to come. Nichole is an uneven actress, only sometimes rising to the world class of Kate and Cate and the old Julianne. The smallest part of this is the process of inhabiting a character, rare enough as it is.A film exists on several layers depending on its architecture. I'm only talking here about films that live. Almost never are the higher levels accessible to the actors in the project: few actors even know they exist. This film is a great example of an actress knowing and inhabiting those higher <more>
levels.What we have here is a director who spins a space of awareness around what we see. The story specifically addresses this and supports it. Into this space, the director and composer have poured a score. This score fits that space as being within the movie proper instead of being an annotation as the usual case.In this space, the score is something between the film and us the audience, the space where the waystations for reincarnation take place at least in the story . Nichole acts to the score. It is a remarkable feat because as with green screen acting one has to anticipate what is to come into being later.The first scene introduces us to that space the score creates. It is a very long shot of the adult Sean running, dying and entering the fog of the score. The scene I mentioned above is later, when Nichole knows she is entering that space: she has literally just sat down to watch an opera... the music comes up from the movie/opera/limbo space we have already entered and it washes over her and changes her reality.This shot isn't just of a character, but of an actress, her character, and a dialog among them and us about the reality of this space, this layer of the film.Later, she is getting married and the music this time by players on screen draw many of the watchers in as well.There are lots of flaws in this; it isn't a lifealtering experience. But that one thing is a special experience, the idea that the filmmaker spins an extra space which Sean infers and Nichole, the composer and we inhabit.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
Birth. If you haven't seen the movie yet, don't read the following. If you have seen it, please note this clarifying explanation: Strange that critics, especially critics of the end of "Birth" forget that one important line: when little Sean says to Clara in the bathroom "don't tell Anna." Little Sean says that before Clara even explains a word about her identity. That means, ob course, that Sean knows exactly who Clara is: his secret love affair in his former incarnation as Annas husband. But he does not like his own behaviour in his former life, and he does <more>
not want Anna to know. That's why he claims to be a liar. But in truth he really is the incarnation of Annas husband.
I can understand why people react so aversely to this film, but, in Birth's defence, it's quite a demanding a piece for it to suit everyone's tastes.Granted, the plot is slightly unpalatable, and yes, there are instances when the film appears to veer into senslessness, but, unless you want a clear-cut resolution, this cannot quite be written off as shoddy work on the part of anyone involved. Most of the complaints made about Birth have come from people who cannot get past the plot elements of the film, namely, the flirtation with pedophilia. It is uncomfortable, quite so, but that <more>
precisely is the point... Moreover, it's worth noting that the characters themselves find it repelling, and that there is nary a sexual undercurrent between Sean and Anna. I believe one could argue, very strongly, that this plot device is merely a catalyst to throw Anna's psyche into relief. In the end, whether the boy is Sean or not proves irrelevant; the film is less about a bizarre happening than about the extreme psychological test it brings about. It's intense analysis of love, grief, need and the leaps of faith...Given this set-up, the execution is flawless. What the screenplay does, quite beautifully, is convey silent emotions; it understands, better than most films, that communication is often non-verbal, and in this situation, when the very thing at stake is reason, it is logical that the characters would be at a loss for words. If any given person were to be in Anna's situation...what would they do? How would you react if someone close to you were living through this? Jonathan Glazer's direction is splendid, building up a somber, airless mood and coaxing superlative performances out of the entire cast. Kidman's performance is somewhat mannered, yet she completely, effortlessly inhabits a difficult role; it is a brave, piercing, bravura performance. She captures Anna's desperation and fragility, but also her privileged lifestyle and upbringing, and the mad undercurrents grief has brought about. The so-called opera scene will be, years from now, considered a seminal moment in her career. Bright is chillingly effective, registering an intensity that is somewhat unsettling, and the supporting turns--which, with limited material flesh out characters, build histories and express emotions that the screenplay only implies--are sterling, especially in the case of Bacall and Howard.Technically, the film is a marvel. Two things are worth noting: Harris Savides' wonderful cinematography there are at least three iconic sequences in the film , which creates a look and a mood that is at once foreboding and exquisitely beautiful, and Alexandre Desplat's splendid score, which underscores the drama without becoming obtrusive and blends symphonic melodies with a hi-lo undercurrent that creates an odd womb-like effect. Lovely, heartbreaking, unforgettable.
How long can a woman grieve the husband who died prematurely? In fact, that question is posed by the writers of this intriguing film, but they never answer it, as they have left it to us, the viewing fans of "Birth", to reach our own conclusions. Our answer would be that Anna will love Sean forever!Jonathan Glazer, an amazing new talent, has followed his previous film, "Sexy Beast" with this new movie written for the screen by an impressive team, namely, Jean-Claude Carriere and Milo Addica, helped by the director himself.Much has been discussed in this site about the <more>
film, which makes a valid point into making us believe a young boy, who might, or not, be the real Sean, is the real thing, or just an opportunist, who happened to be at the right place, at the right time. Anna, the woman who suffered the great loss in her life fights the boy when he appears, then, as everything points into the right direction, or what she wants to believe, and she gets answers that have been inside her head all the time, she accepts as natural a situation that by all accounts if far from normal.Nicole Kidman, with dark short hair, gives a subtle performance as Anna. Ms. Kidman's contribution to the film is amazing; she goes from denial to a complete state of acceptance. There are moments when we, as the viewer, feel the pain Anna is feeling. Her sequence at the concert when we watch her face, as all the emotions are seen in her face, is one of her best moments in a film. Also the last sequence when we watch her at the beach, after she has married Joseph and is seen wandering in the water crying is another clue we get from her.Cameron Bright, the young actor, makes Sean comes to life, no pun intended. This young actor has an innate talent for getting inside the skin of the characters he is portraying. There is not a false move from the way this actor tackles to convey the idea he is Sean, and that's all there is to it!Anne Heche, as Clara, holds the key to solving the mystery of the situation the arrival of young Sean has created. The family is in turmoil. This well to do family, who is at odds, first believing, then seeing what it has gone to Anna. We don't see what Clara's role is in the story until the end. Her character has been made to seem ambiguous throughout the movie.Danny Huston, who we admired in his recent role in "The Constant Gardener", who plays Joseph, the man that has made Anna agree into marrying him. Joseph cannot deal with the changes Anna is going through, so he bolts from her life, as one expects him to do. It's bad enough to have been competing with the ghost of a dead former husband, but it's too much to have a ten year old rival.Laruen Bacall, Arliss Howard, Peter Stormore, and the others in the cast give good performances under Mr. Glazer's direction. The moody musical score by Alexandre Desplat is elegant, somber, and mysterious and sets a perfect mood for the film. The elegant cinematography by Harris Savides, with its dark tones and cloudy skies serves the film well. Ultimately, this film clearly shows us a director, Jonathan Glazer, who never bores the viewer in the always chooses the stories he wants to present for our pleasure.