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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Birth

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: October 2004
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Drama

*Also starring: Danny Huston, Anne Heche, Lauren Bacall, Arliss Howard, Peter Stormare, Ted Levine, Cara Seymour, Alison Elliott, Zoe Caldwell, Milo Addica, Novella Nelson

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

BIRTH is a stunning, sophomoric effort by writer/director Jonathan Glazer (SEXY BEAST). It stars a mesmerizing Nicole Kidman as Anna, a wealthy woman whose dead husband Sean comes back to thwart her upcoming marriage to Joseph (Danny Huston). An intense, mature and just slightly creepy Cameron Bright plays the 10-year-old Sean, who claims to be none other than Anna's Sean who died a decade ago. No matter how often Sean's dad insists that he relent and promise never to see Anna again, the young lad refuses to go along and thereby give up "his wife."

At this point, you may be thinking, "supernatural -- I don't do supernatural." Even if you think this isn't the genre for you, you might want to think again, since it isn't clear until the end exactly what is happening. And, even then, the script purposely undermines the rock solid explanation it just provided you.

What is certain is that this is a movie with a director in firm control of the reins. The sparse dialog is just about superfluous, as the movie tells the story more through carefully constructed visuals than it does through the spoken word.

And the music. Ah, the music. It is simply sublime. The movie's best scene occurs inside a theater. As Anna's face fills the frame and the camera freezes as she contemplates the spell the boy's story has cast on her, an orchestral selection from Wagner's "Die Walküre" perfectly sets the mood. This is one of the best scenes of the year. With small variations in facial gestures, Kidman tells an entire novel's worth of Anna's deepest thoughts.

A movie that makes the phrase "slow paced" a compliment, BIRTH is worth seeing a second time just to soak up its score and images.

BIRTH runs a beautifully paced 1:40. It is rated R for "sexuality" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes

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