Anna has the perfect life. She is from a prominent family and has just received a marriage proposal at a party with all of society on hand. But it’s all turned upside down when a 10-year-old boy walks into her life and pronounces, “It’s me, Sean.” As in her late husband.
What is true love? Is reincarnation a way to wipe the slate clean? Knowing everything of your past relationship, if you had a chance to do it all over again, would you?
Director Jonathan Glazer described the movie as a “fairy tale” with subject matter that will have you either loving this story or hating it.
Spoilers will be in italic.
Anna’s husband, Sean goes for a run, suffers a heart attack and dies. Anna (Nicole Kidman) is left miserable with loss and left with no choice she moves on. Years later, Joseph (Danny Huston) puts on a party for society people in order to announce his engagement to Anna. All is well. Clifford (Peter Stormare) and wife Clara (Anne Heche) make an appearance at the party. Clifford is Sean’s brother. Clara leaves suddenly via an excuse and in the lobby, spots a boy sitting by himself.
Anna and Clifford make an awkward attempt at small talk. This is the first time seeing each other since Sean’s funeral.
Clara is followed by the boy to a gift shop, then to the park where he witnesses her bury the wedding gift.
Sometime later, Anna’s mother (Lauren Bacall) has a birthday party where the boy makes an unexpected appearance. Before the gathering of party guests, the boy addresses Anna, “Its me, Sean.” The night takes a weird turn by the boy named Sean (Cameron Bright) as well.
At first, Anna dismisses young Sean’s claim, but the more he gives details to the history of the late husband, she slowly begins to question the illogical situation. He uses different methods to convince. He writes her a simple note: Don’t marry him. Sean loves her with all his heart and will not let anyone get in the way of true love a second time. His continued presence leaves Joseph feeling ineffectual and intimidated. His inveigling wears down a once incredulous Anna. A side note: Kidman’s hair style is reminiscent to Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.
Anna never got over her husband’s death and Joseph is who she settled on. The more he sees of the boy the more Joseph knows this to be true. The heartache and humiliation of coming in second place to a child is unbearable. *At a party for the couple, Joseph snaps and takes the ever present Sean into another room and proceeds to spank him. This is the last straw for Anna who calls off the wedding.
The facts of their history together cannot be refuted and everyone is left with the uncomfortable reality that this is the Sean she married and then died. Anna and Sean get to know each other, the two believe this was meant to be. They begin to plan a life together.
Sean’s parents (played by in a cameo by Ted Levine and Cara Seymour) talk with Anna about his condition. At wits end, they plead with her to dissuade the boy of this foolishness. But how do you convince someone he is not who thinks he is?
This is where the story might upset or make some uncomfortable:
*There’s a scene where the boy gets into the bath tub with Anna as they plan what to do next. The subject of sex is discussed in a way that does not cross the line. In another scene they share a kiss. It bares repeating that Sean has his former adult’s memories, this is not a child in the truest sense of the word.
Clara has seen enough and remained silent far too long.
*She confronts Sean with the truth about his former self: The two had an affair while married. Sean is confronted with forgotten memories now reawakened. Not only did he have an affair, but it was with his brother’s wife. The truth shatters the reincarnated boy’s false, idealized love for his wife. His plans for he and Anna are ruined for good.
The ending was polarizing to viewers. There are a few questions that were not dealt with, but overall, the story does make it’s point about love.
Can you love someone completely? Never allowing another to get in the way? Is it easier to mystify one’s marriage than to see what is right in front of you?
I watched this movie with someone I was dating, and good thing too, because it does present certain situations right in your face and there is not a satisfactory answer for all.
Birth is a good date night movie for those who understand that love is not enough.