Monday, November 01, 2004

Kidman Film Can't Shake Controversy

New Kidman film can't shake controversy News Staff
Updated: Fri. Oct. 29 2004 11:22 PM ET

The new Nicole Kidman movie, "Birth" has been stirring controversy even before its release. The story of a middle-aged woman falling for a 10-year-old boy goes too far, say some. But the film's director says they're missing the point.

The movie's complex plot centres on a boy who claims to be Kidman's reincarnated husband, who died on the same night that the boy was born. Though Kidman's character dismisses the boy at first, she soon begins to believe the boy really is who he claims to be.

In one scene, the child walks in on Anna while she is taking a bath. He disrobes in front of her and climbs into the bath with her. In another, Kidman and bright kiss.

Filmgoers at the Venice Film Festival booed the film, calling it scandalous and obscene.

For 11-year old actor Cameron Bright, who won the role for his boyish face and manly gaze, he admits that he doesn't see what the fuss is all about.

"There's not much to tell about it. Nothing really happens in it at all," he says.

The young actor from Nanaimo B.C. and his co-star were never actually nude together. After all, his mother approved his role.

"I knew that there wasn't anything to do with anything bad in those scenes," Bright says.

Much has been made of the mature nature of the movie. But director Jonathan Glazer insists this is a story of love, not sex.

"The idea was to try and construct a story where you believe these two should be together, and were in love with one another," Glazer says.

Kidman has said much the same, telling a press conference at the Venice Film Festival that she " responded to this woman who was in mourning.".

"It wasn't about, 'Oh I want to make a film where I get to kiss a 10-year-old boy.' To me it was I wanted to make a film where you're trying to understand love," she said.

Some of the first Canadians to see the movie on Friday say the controversy has been overplayed.

"I wasn't too keen on that, but it didn't go too far, you know," one filmgoer told CTV. "You anticipated it might have, but it didn't. It was done tastefully."

"They went out boldly on a limb at time, but not distasteful," says another.

So far, the film critics' reviews have been poor. The Canadian Press gave it only two stars, calling it "pretentious" and "ultimately unsatisfying," saved only by the performances of Kidman and Bright.

Still, film critic Jim Gordon says the debate will certainly prompt many curious filmgoers to head to the multiplex regardless.

"It's going to get lots more box office this weekend because of the controversy," Gordon says.

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