Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004)

It’s difficult to explain just how this film works at all, with its dead-eyed joyless protagonists with starchy teeth and angular clothes; its glacial pace and icy cinematography; and its chill whiff of cross-class pedophilia. Perhaps it’s best to know that, in hands other than the assured ones in which it’s coddled, this film’s emotional frequency would have been pitched Saluki-high, its script would have been soaked with saccharine expressions of Love That Never Dies, and its narrative would have relied on the easy trope of the creepy prepubescent with the skin-crawling voice. Or maybe it’s actually better to say that the film doesn’t so much work as enchant.

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