10 years after her husband’s death, a newly engaged woman (Nicole Kidman) is confronted by a ten year old boy who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband.
It’s a premise ripe with potential, but, unfortunately, writer/director Jonathan Glazer squanders it, essentially by failing to commit to a tone. ‘Birth’ starts off as a fairytale, a whimsical score in flight as we move around a winter New York. Then, it feints at going darker, threatening to explore the real, possibly sexual implications of such an event. The film see saws between the two until the final act, during which it takes a different route entirely: neither.
‘Birth’ wants desperately to be a film about the strength of love and obsession, of how it can transcend time. It wants to be about the power of memory and self delusion. It wants to be about the dangers of vulnerability. ‘Birth’ wants to be about all these things, but the strategy it chooses is to glance over all of them, never delving deep.
The one thing ‘Birth’ really has going for it is Kidman, who is able to convey so much information with just a flicker of her eyes, even if she never quite appears to be the sexless embodiment of grief Glazer wants her to be.
An intriguing but ultimately wispy failure, ‘Birth’ simply exists to make me appreciate Glazer’s masterpiece ‘Under the Skin’ even more as a once in a lifetime achievement.