Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Birth (2004)

I have this thing for strange movies. Some I honestly like while others I watch simply because they’re strange. There are some like Birth that I watch simply to see how they turn out. They get you interested and don’t let go until a very unusual ending.

The movie opens with a man saying that he doesn’t believe in reincarnation. Next is a man (presumably the same man) jogging. It’s a very simple, powerful scene. It looks like he’s jogging his usual route when all of a sudden, he collapses underneath a bridge. The next scene is a child being born.

Ten years pass since the man dies. The man’s wife, Anna, is getting married again, this time to a man named Joseph. One day, at a party, a ten-year-old boy walks in claiming to be Sean. It turns out his name is actually Sean, but he means Anna’s dead husband Sean. This freaks Anna out a little, but she begins to accept and believe the boy. He seems to know things about Sean, Sr., like where he died.

Most of the people surrounding Anna don’t believe. Anna’s mother is particularly resistant, threatening to call the police at one point. Even if Sean were to prove that he was who he claimed to be, it’s just not right for a woman of Anna’s age to have that kind of a relationship with a child of ten. (I should warn you that there’s a bathtub scene along those lines that may freak people out. It was staged, but it’s still a little freaky.)

Joseph is outright resistant to the idea that Sean is the reincarnation of the deceased. He’s had to wait a long time for Anna and be persistent. It’s understandable that he doesn’t want the boy in his house. After all, here’s this ten-year-old kid that practically walks right in to their lives and almost instantly wins Anna over, whereas he’s had to wait several years just to get her to say yes to a marriage proposal.

But is it even really Sean? The movie goes back and forth several times. Yes, he knows stuff, but he doesn’t know other things. There are also critical facts that the young Sean doesn’t know. He spends the entire movie seemingly convinced that he’s reincarnated, but what does he have to gain? What’s his game? Of all the people that could have been reincarnated and aware of it, why him? Why now?

That was what kept me watching the movie, even though it was slow and a little confusing. I kept waiting for some sort of major revelation, but I never got it. There was no heavy “Oh crap” moment where the entire movie came into focus. It would have been nice.

Don’t get me wrong. The acting was good. Nichole Kidman effectively played a woman that needed to believe. Lauren Bacall was great as a mother who knew that her daughter was digging a hole she might never get out of. But it was too strange a story. Reincarnation is one of those things that some people dismiss as mystic nonsense. I think that many of these people will turn the movie off within a half an hour. I can’t even say that that’s a bad thing.

I kind of wish I hadn’t watched the movie. Having watched it all the way to the end, I didn’t get it. Someone could come up to me and explain it and I probably still wouldn’t get it. I’m not sure what Anna was planning on doing at the end of the movie. Did she finally feel that she was being taken? I can’t recommend this movie.

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