Birth

"Bad"

Birth Review


Jonathan Glazer's stylish debut Sexy Beast stood out for the uncharacteristically explosive and vicious performance the director coaxed out of stately Ben Kingsley. Evidence of any such energy all but escapes Birth, Glazer's anticipated follow-up to his kinetic gangster picture. A plodding and pretentious thriller, this beyond-the-grave affair ends up being too art-house for the mainstream crowd and too mainstream for the art-house crowd. Loosely translated, that means it doesn't work for anyone.

Birth hangs its hat on a delicate premise that demands kid gloves if it seriously hopes to sustain the already shaky credibility. An elegant transition of life forces starts the film. Physician Sean dies while jogging. Simultaneously, a baby is born. Fast forward 10 years, where a cave-eyed child coincidentally named Sean (Cameron Bright) claims to Upper West Side basket case Anna (Nicole Kidman) that he is her reincarnated ex-husband. Anna's humorless fiancée (Danny Huston) scoffs at the idea. Her mother (a neglected Lauren Bacall) displays indifference. ("I never liked Sean, anyway," she articulates.) But Anna's not so quick to write the boy off.

Shot under inadequate light and paced like a slug dragging a jet ski, Birth would gladly trade its right arm for the pleasure of being described as atmospheric. I'm going to go with "sedated beyond the point of feeling." Glazer's steady camera lingers for what seems to be an eternity on his leading lady's concerned face, hoping beyond hope to capture vital emotions of longing, guilt, grief, or suspicion. None register. Meanwhile, the naturally spooky Bright perfects these monotonous, robotic line readings, but little else. He states with no real enthusiasm, "I'm Sean," then waits for everyone to believe him. You'd imagine Sean's reincarnated spirit would be confused or upset. Bright has one facial expression - sleepy - so he can only carry his role so far.

Hard as this is to believe, but Glazer's cast actually entertains the notion of reincarnation, toying with the idea that this kid could be Sean. The trouble is we never share the group's blind faith. Most of the time, Anna and Sean behave like they have a valuable piece of information we haven't seen or won't be given. A key is eventually produced to unlock the film's secrets, but the solution to young Sean's insistence is laughably preposterous. Either Sean is Anna's dead husband or he isn't. By its final frame, Birth manages to avoid deciding on either option.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!



Birth

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th November 2004

Box Office USA: $5.0M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 88

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Anna, as Young Sean, as Joseph, as Eleanor, as Laura, as Clara, as Clifford

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.