Plenty of good foreplay, but no orgasm. So highly enjoyable, to a point. We both had a suspicion that our delight might be disguising a steady march towards a semi-satisfactory conclusion, almost from the start - which happens to be one of the better movie openings in recent years. (Team America has a good one too!)
The plot situation is of the kind that in itself requires a Houdini-like escape act. Everything could be as it seems, but where would you go from there? Lasting ambiguity or a radical twist are the two most common approaches to the predicament (the former more common in Latin American literature, the latter in North American cinema).
In a move reminiscent of A Tale of Two Sisters, Birth opts for a partial resolution two thirds of the way in, but in this case the extended epilogue which takes the place of a real climax fails to re-spring the tension or re-establish any ambiguity. (One suspects that the co-writers were ultimately beset with ambivalence about their conclusion, as opposed to suggestive ambiguity.)
Nicole Kidman has always been close to the top of V's list of least favourite thesps - 'La Pinocha', and she doesn't cover herself in glory here, though the blame may have to be shared with the script. We felt we needed much more from Anna in the key moments when she chooses to believe and then un-believe. In a fictional world populated by so many unsympathetic characters, many of whom seem to harbour dark secrets, we need her to offer us more of a beacon. The concert hall scene is her only real high point.
While The Sixth Sense benefitted from the enormous charm of it's child star, Haley Joel Osment, Birth's Cameron Bright is in comparison Wayne Ronney junior. (Muy parecido a ese chiriz en About a Boy) V felt sure that the mood of blank potentuousness that surrounded this child couldn't explain away his lack of Patrick Swayze-style joy at the 'reunion' with his wife.
Birth has a British Director and a Frenchman amongst its writers, but it's a shame that the film was produced by the nation least equipped psychologically to handle the erotic insinuations beneath it carries in its subconscious. This is another one of those stories that the Europeans, and the French in particular, might have done better on their own. (And the theme of class never really works well in American movies.)
As if to compensate for the reticence about the undercurrents the director and production team focus to good effect on the surface - the uptown appartment block, the patrician interiors, the Saturnine aspect of Central Park.
There are loads of clever scene transitions, and I loved the birthday cake device which allows Sean to sneak unnoticed into the family inner sanctum. We were both also amused when Joseph provided an explanation of the significance of the bridge scene for the benefit of the popcorn- spilling latecomers that tend to miss the title sequence.
Alexandre Desplat's score is superb.