Nicole Kidman, Danny Huston, Lauren Bacall, Anne Heche, Cameron Bright

Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
October 28, 2004

Birth is the second film from director and co-writer Jonathan Glazer, following his smashing 2002 debut, Sexy Beast. The delivery doesn't come easy. Glazer's reluctance to show what he really wants to emerge from this supernatural thriller can make you yearn to go in with forceps. Still, the best of what's onscreen is a mesmerizing mind-teaser. What the film is not is kiddie porn, despite some huffy "Well, I never!" reactions to a scene in the luxurious Manhattan apartment of Anna (Nicole Kidman), a grieving widow for ten years who is about to remarry. Anna is in her bath when Sean (the eerily effective Cameron Bright), a ten-year-old boy who has recently entered her life, comes in, removes his clothes and gets in the tub with her. "What are you doing?" she asks incredulously. "I want to look at my wife," he answers.

The scene is not sexual. Anna is shocked, as she has been since Sean announced that he is the reincarnation of her dead husband. The boy's parents (Ted Levine, Cara Seymour) are alarmed, as is Anna's mother (a no-bull Lauren Bacall). Anna's fiance (Danny Huston) is so miffed that he tries to beat the kid.ut, ever so slowly, Anna begins to believe. And the film, which sidesteps a prosaic subplot involving a couple (Anne Heche and Peter Stormare) who knew the dead husband, takes hold as a fierce psychological drama. Glazer and his ace director of photography, Harris Savides, create an atmosphere that seems alive to every possibility. At a concert, while the orchestra swells with Wagner's Die Walkuere, the camera just fixes on Anna. Kidman, sporting a short Mia Farrow hairstyle out of Rosemary's Baby, lets emotions play across her face with her own symphonic grace. It's a tour-de-force performance in a stylistically bold movie that — flaws and all — has the power to haunt your dreams.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »