Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer) Movie Review
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright, Lauren Bacall
Ten years after losing her husband, Anna is on the verge of marrying her boyfriend, Joseph, and finally moving on; however, on the night of her engagement party, a little boy named Sean turns up, claiming to be her husband reincarnated into a child’s body. Anna laughs this off at first, but sooner realizes that this was not the prank that she thought it was.
Jonathan Glazer’s directorial works are known to be audacious and peculiar. Having not liked his more recent work, Under the Skin, I thought that Birth did a better job and is a gem worth uncovering. All of the performances are strong. Nicole Kidman gives a fearless yet vulnerable performance as Anna. Cameron Bright brings one of the most fascinating performances I’ve seen from a child actor, effortlessly confusing the audience and Anna with subtle tones and equal measures.
The film is also visually stunning. The opening shot of a man running paired with melancholic music is haunting. Every sequence is more focused on the frame than what is going on inside of it. Without context, every shot can be pulled out and it’s art. There are long sequences of camera movement and shots where characters are just staring off the screen and it’s brilliant. The story is forced to work around the frame and pulls much of it’s tension from the blank stares, tiny movements, and the space created by the director.
Having a mysterious plot, Birth is not out there to answer any big questions. Yes, it does explore different topics such as eternal love, life after death, and the possibility of reincarnation, but it never preaches nor spoonfeeds to the audience. Showing the portrait of what it would be like when a ten year old boy showed up at the house of the man’s wife claiming to be her dead husband, the movie never gives a manual or a how-to at the end on what actually happened. People may dismiss this film to be overly ambiguous and vague, but it’s within the mysteries and unanswered questions that make Birth such a memorable experience.
Birth is a criminally underrated film. There might be controversy surrounding Kidman and Bright on the date of its release, but that just shows how strong their performances are. The soundtrack, the cinematography, and the directing of Glazer just shows how important the little things are, and in this movie the little things are what engaged me and what made me fall under its spell.
Watched March 2017