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:: Birth

Having made an impression with his debut feature Sexy Beast, director Jonathan Glazer confirms his potential with one of the most unique and seductively filmed movies you will see this year.

Nicole Kidman stars as Anna, a young widow who is on the verge of starting a new life when a little boy appears on the scene, claiming to be the reincarnation of her dead husband.

This film had received much pre-release hype due to the scene where Anna is in a bathtub with the 10-year-old boy Sean (Cameron Bright). But, put into the perspective of how that moment is part of the general treatment of Anna, the mystery is delicately placed.

Back to the commencement of the film, the opening scenes will leave a marked effect for the remainder. It is beautifully shot; a wide view of Anna with her fiance Joseph (Danny Huston) seen together confronting the boy. It leaves Anna visibly shaken. Glazer holds the shot for some time as we observe Anna'’ thought processes. It is an expressive moment from Nicole Kidman.

The film moves forward with this intelligent woman on a path to discovery. She is well teamed with the child. The uneasy association may be strange but it lends itself to fine acting.

Anna finds it hard to dismiss Sean’s announcement of his crush for her. He even writes to her, telling her “Don’t Marry Joseph”, which causes Joseph to speak with the father (Ted Levine). The visual motions of Sean’s quizzing, yet compelling look and Anna’s withdrawal can stray the audience from identifying the key points. Anna can be viewed as a sad figure of emotional emptiness and who becomes obsessed with the situation.

We are left with the fact that this is a story, elegant in its presentation, of a grown woman in love with a little boy. From the first half of the film successfully stirring up tensions around Sean’s assertion, the rest of the film asks questions but doesn’t move forward enough in becoming a paranormal mystery of heartfelt dignity. The ending is a slight letdown with a contrived set of circumstances that keep things safe. And we don’t feel a lot of empathy with the characters.