Screening in 35mm print.
Widely disparaged by reviewers on its release (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 the director of the British gangster movie, Sexy Beast. The key may be Glazer’s screenwriting partner Jean-Claude Carriere, who collaborated with Luis Bunuel in the 1960s and 70s. For all its teasing ambiguities, this isn’t a speculation about reincarnation so much as a surreal fairytale 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 Queen).
Copresented by the Lacan Society, this screening will include remarks and discussion led by Christine Evans and Ona Nierenberg, PhD.
Christine Evans is a lecturer in Film Studies at UBC. Her research focuses on love and the intersections between film theory, continental philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis.
Ona Nierenberg is a psychoanalyst practicing in NYC, a Senior Psychologist at Bellevue Hospital Center, and a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center. She has published articles on psychoanalysis, sexuality, and the discourse of science, as well as on licensing and the question of lay analysis. She is a member of Après-Coup Psychoanalytic Association and an Overseas Member of APPI.
"Contemporary British and American cinema, whether independent or mainstream, rarely offers films as adult, ambitious, and stylish as Birth (2004), a spellbinding work that explores mental and emotional depths from which no spectator will return unchanged." Olivier Pére, Locarno Film Festival