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Birth (2004)

Be careful what you wish for.

Directed by:

Jonathan Glazer

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 100 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

In the first few seconds of ‘Birth’, a man asks himself the question of what he would do if his missus died, only for a bird to turn up the next day claiming – in perfect English, mind – to be her. That one question sums up perfectly what this entire film is about. When reincarnation not only stares us in the face, but turns up in our bathrooms and climbs into the tub with us, do we believe in it? Or should we just concentrate on how a bird is able to hold a spoken conversation with us in the first place?

It’s not a situation the majority of us are ever likely to have to deal with but, for Anna (Nicole Kidman), it’s a scenario which threatens to turn her entire life upside down. Her husband died from a heart-attack ten years ago, and she’s spent the best part of that decade trying to move on with her life. Her best chance of doing so appears to be Joseph (Danny Huston), a city gent who, after several years of trying, has finally convinced her to take him as her second hubby.

Of course, poor ol’ Joe didn’t bank on facing some stiff competition from a snot-nosed ten-year-old – but that’s exactly what happens when young Sean (Cameron Bright) turns up on the couple’s doorstep claiming to be hubby back from the dead. So, does she choose the fairly normal if slightly nerdy Joseph, or creepy kiddy-wink Sean? Let’s face it, only one of them will let her play with his Lego.

While the issue of reincarnation is obviously the film’s main concern, you’ll be hard-pushed not to find yourself slightly sidetracked by the uncomfortable blossoming romance between grown woman and child. I couldn’t help but feel that if this same story had been told using an adult male and ten-year old-girl, some of the scenes the film puts us through would spark public outrage.

That, however, wasn’t my main problem with ‘Birth’. The acting’s good, the direction’s good, but at the end of it all I just didn’t buy the storyline. Everything is wrapped up far too easily at the end, leaving behind a string of plot-holes which make less and less sense the more you think about them. And, for all I’ve said in past reviews about Hollywood nowadays being far too obsessed with having to add a twist to every tale, it’s exactly what this particular film could have done with.

It's Got: Squirrels in the woods. Look out for them.

It Needs: To have concentrated harder on bringing us a conclusion that works, or at least surprises.

Alternatives:

Heaven Can Wait

Summary

A prime example of how impressive acting and wonderful direction can be wasted on an implausible and slightly-tasteless story.

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One Comment

  1. sean barr
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    I must say that I am presently OBSESSED with this film even though I agree with the review as far as the shitty ending. Although it does have Anna actually ready to walk into the Atlantic when she should be posing for her wedding pics, presumably because she has just gone over the letter Sean wrote her in answer to one she wrote him (also I infer from the way he thanks her and says his mum does too that she was probably forgiving him for his behavior and reinforcing the idea that he really WAS NOT her reincarnated husband!), and she is basically freaked out because she KNOWS that he really was, and that for whatever reason he was suddenly made to doubt his feelings, or something that made him make a 180 degree about-face just when he had her ready to run away with him!! Anyways I LOVE the movie more and more each time I watch, and I think it is because it hits a very very strong cord within my entire conscious and sub-conscious. I believe in reincarnation 100% and I only wonder if it could be possible for a dead spouse to choose to come back that soon, considering that there is apparently ALWAYS a certain amount of time spent in the ASTRAL PLANE IN BETWEEN and due to the fact that the time in that particular dimension runs entirely different to our own, it usually allows for a person to feel like they have experienced a much much shorter length of time ‘over there’ when compared to how many years pass here! So the film shows it as though he was re-born right away, basically with almost NO TIME passing here, that’s why he is ten and they tell us 10 years have past when we see her at the grave. It is whether this scenario could actually happen that I am so interested in exploring! Because this movie is basically technically perfect as far as I am concerned, and because the subject matter IS so near and dear to me, I can overlook the plot/writing failures, and the little improbabilities such as his being named Sean again!

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