Some of my favorite movies require the viewer to take what seems to be initial leaps of faith, or require what might seem to be a large leap towards suspension of disbelief. I think of films like Breaking the Waves or some of Kieslowski's films namely some stories in The Decalogue or The Double Life of Veronique. In part I think all stories require a bit of a suspension of disbelief if you are to allow yourself to be caught up in them. What truly matters is if in the story, the characters, faced with what might seem to be completely outlandish situations can act in believable ways.
Birth, directed by Jonathon Glazer asks the viewer to take a huge leap. Is it really possible that a woman ten years removed from the death of her husband can see her husband reincarnated in the body of a ten year old boy? And it's more complicated as she is just about to remarry. It seems entirely absurd, right? Fair enough, just accept it. Just at this point take it as a given, regardless of your stance on reincarnation and sit back and watch how the characters react.
The child knows intimate details of her life. He recognizes other members of the family, "You were the one who told Anne there was no Santa Claus..." he says to Anne's grandmother at one point. He knows the details of Anne's brothers life, and of Anne's sex life in her marraige.
The charcters are well off sophisticated New Yorkers. None of them face an easy decision. Anne has all this evidence before her that goes against all whims of science and rational thought, but it's all in front of her. Is she gonna believe theory or her own eyes ears and heart. What of Anne's fiance? How does he deal with this, patiently, as he has known Anne long enough to know this would definitely affect her in a large way. Or does he act decisively, and perhaps selfishly to ensure that his engagement to Anne is not compromised and he and she is not hurt. What of the other family members? How do they balance this situation with their love for Anne. Each of their responses is believeable. Each when faced with the seemingly absurd act human, their actions often times contradict themselves just minutes apart. How else to deal with something like this.
The film itself was perfectly paced for this sort of story. It had a similar vibe to me of a cross betweem an M. Night Shalyman film and a Stanley Kubrick film. From even ten minutes in through the ending I was left feeling extremely uneasy the whole time I viewed it.
I don't know how you construct an ending to this film. To me this ending may have been a bit unresolved but maybe thats the point. Maybe after an experience like this the emotions and the idea would leave one unresolved, you can go 100 different ways and stiill need to wonder, "What if..." I loved this movie and really need someone else to watch it soon so I can discuss it with them.