Birth ★★★★

Birth takes on the theme of death and grief in the most out-of-the-box, at times controversial manner. As a European-style psychological slowburn, Birth excels at its deadpan yet effective buildup of tensions and suspense, to portray a woman's twisty encounter with a boy who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband.

With most of the sequences set inside an apartment building, accompanied by perfectly ominous, heartbeat-like sound effects or classical scores, Birth succeeds in creating a cold, almost claustrophobic world of despair and heartbreak, where the personal ordeals of each character is maximized to the extremity. The acting caliber is also astonishingly high, between Nicole Kidman's heartbreaking frailty and Cameron Bright's scarily mature delivery as a 10-year-old.

As a slow mood piece on the psychological and emotional impacts of death on individuals, Birth is one of the best of such subgenre, thanks to director Jonathan Glazer's mastery of atmospheric filmmaking. The story may not be on par with the directorial excellence, because of some arguable plausibility problems, but it's definitely going to leave an impression no matter what, due to its full on heart and soul, as well as some of its boundary-pushing scenes that are simply uncomfortable to watch. Highly recommended.

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