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Birth film image; trio in conversation

Widely disparaged by reviewers on its release 20 years ago (it rates just 39% on the aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes) and a box office failure, Birth is a sorely misunderstood film, and more than that, a surrealist masterpiece. Nicole Kidman plays a young Manhattan widow who is bemused, angered, appalled, and finally captivated and enraptured by the strange courtship of a ten-year-old boy (Vancouver’s Cameron Bright) who claims to be Sean, her late husband.

It is an unsettling film, no doubt, and a completely unexpected about-face for Glazer after Sexy Beast. The key may be his screenwriting partner Jean-Claude Carriere, who collaborated with Luis Bunuel on his key films in the 1960s and 70s. For all its teasing ambiguities, this isn’t a speculation about reincarnation so much as a surreal fairy tale probing amour fou. Love is a spine-tingling enchantment, and it’s a curse, more slippery and dangerous than we care to acknowledge. Nicole Kidman gives the performance of her life here, and don’t overlook the extraordinary contributions of DP Harris Savides (Elephant; Zodiac) and composer Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel).

Screening in 35mm

Without Ms. Kidman’s brilliantly nuanced performance, Birth might feel arch, chilly and a little sadistic, but she gives herself so completely to the role that the film becomes both spellbinding and heartbreaking, a delicate chamber piece with the large, troubled heart of an opera.

AO Scott, New York Times

Mysterious and haunting… you won’t believe anyone got away with making a film like this.

David Thomson, The Guardian


Jonathan Glazer


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

Country of Origin






100 min

Book Tickets

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Jean-Claude Carrière, Milo Addica, Jonathan Glazer


Claus Wehlisch, Harris Savides


Sam Sneade, Claus Wehlisch

Production Design

Kevin Thompson

Art Director

Jonathan Arkin

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