Birth ★★★★

“Birth” is an uncomfortable slow-burn mystery drama about loss, grief, and eternal love with one of the most audacious premises I´ve seen in a while. 10 years after the death of her husband, Anna is about to remarry but at her engagement party she is confronted by a 10-year-old boy who claims to be her reincarnated husband. What follows is a provocative, intriguing, and discomforting psychological mood piece and a fine tonal balancing act. The mesmerizing cinematography, eerie score, and unsettling, cold, and off-kilter atmosphere have an engrossing, hypnotizing effect and more than once I was reminded of Kubrick. Yet the most important factor for the film to work is Nicole Kidman´s spellbinding, nuanced, and delicate performance. Let´s face it, the premise is both absurd and questionable but the sincere, heart-wrenching vulnerability that Kidman displays makes you believe that she believes the story, or at least desperately wants to believe it, and despite the inherent creepiness of the situation, you still pity her. It´s a difficult, risky, tremendous performance. I´m also impressed by Cameron Bright, whose ambiguous creepy-annoying child performance gave me chills. Also, casting Lauren Bacall as Nicole Kidman´s mother is just chef´s kiss. I don´t think “Birth” succeeds at everything it intends to do and I´m not fully satisfied with the ending but I strongly appreciate the bold originality, masterful technical craftmanship, and powerful performances. A haunting little gem.

If Jonathan Glazer had a bigger output and would make more movies like “Birth” or “Under the Skin”, he would compete with Yorgos Lanthimos for the title of the master of contemporary weirdo cinema.

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