Anna (Nicole Kidman) becomes convinced that a 10 year old boy is the reincarnation of her dead husband. The viewers of “Birth” on the other hand become convinced that the main characters are rich posh bastards who have a black woman as maid and rather should spend some money on a shrink for her delusional daughter. Never once in the whole movie do we get to believe in the reincarnation mostly because we are shown how the boy gets to know what he knows (love letters for the win).
Following some threads on imdb it seems some still believe he truly is her reincarnated husband because of the birth scene in the beginning and because of the dirty hands bathroom “don’t tell Anna” scene and lastly because he knew where Sean died.
One, birth scene: yes it sets us up for the religious belief that one soul leaves this world and another one enters it, at no time are we told both incidents are linked or that the baby is Sean, so it is just a pointer nothing more. Two, the “don’t tell Anna” scene can be interpreted as such that young Sean knows who Clara is and doesn’t want to hurt Anna and basically repents his way in his former life. Or, he is just a young brat who doesn’t want Anna to find out how he got to know what he knows, which is what most viewers tend to believe and which is why I sort of dissent since as a kid he wouldn’t care as much about the “don’t tell Anna I dug up your letters” as he would for the fact that he is fucked anyhow and is in for a major ass whopping. So if it is not the latter the kid is concerned about then it is the fact that he does not want Anna to find out about Clara and him but do we care? No.
Three, young Sean found out about the place where he died by “googling” it or any other means of information retrieval. It’s not that hard to find out stuff people believe are kept safe and secret… but it does not matter whether or not we believe in the reincarnation, we never “connect” to Anna or the way she believes by choice of the film makers. We are being kept “outside” as spectators.
The movie at all times fails to instill that suspension of disbelief in the viewer that it would take in order to believe. It annoys us with whiny dialogue – esp. when Anna tells her future husband that young Sean told her not to marry him while they fuck and as a reply he just fucks her harder, which of course is what she asked for anyhow – and superficiality and presents us with cardboard characters. When Anna eventually crawls back to her future husband she tells him what she “wants” and at the very end of that “I want” speech she adds “peace” and he replies “OK” and I almost switched off at that point. Maybe it’s because I think Mdm. Kidman can’t act her way out of a wet paper bag, I don’t know.
At the very end she recites that last letter she got from young Sean, in which he hopes to meet her again in another life time and she has another nervous breakdown right at her wedding and runs towards the ocean (where else would rich people have their summer residence) but she is too confused to actually pull off a proper “Ophelia”. Why would he send her that “please kill yourself” letter if he – being the real Sean – wanted to “protect” her? Oops, spoiler? Too late! There’s only one death in the whole movie. Come to think of it, maybe it would have been a better movie if it were more like a Shakespearean drama?