WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A damn cute woman who lost her loving husband ten years prior is about to get married to a new guy, when a 10-year old boy shows up at her mom's birthday party and announces that 1) he's the re-incarnation of her dead husband and 2) he doesn't think that she should marry the new clown in her life. Of course, most everyone blows the kid off at first (pun intended!), but after tossing a whole bunch of personal factoids from his previous life down their throats, some of them start to believe the kid, especially, the damn cute woman -- who looks a lot like Nicole Kidman, incidentally. What follows is the mystery of "is he" or "isn't he"?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This movie's all about Nicole Kidman. If you like her, you're likely to enjoy, at least, a good portion of this film, if only because she's in almost every single frame, and not only that, but in extreme close-ups much of the time, which to others might be unflattering, but to Ms. Kidman, works in her favor. I've always enjoyed Kidman's performances, but her showing in this film is among her best. There's no hiding when the friggin' camera lingers on your face for minutes on end without any cuts or edits to anyone or anything else (the opera scene). Bravo! But with Kidman's impressive performance aside, as well as the film's most intriguing premise and set-up, I can't say that the film fulfilled much of what it had going for it, particularly during its denouement, when I was hoping the film's generally melancholic and effective mood and mystery would maintain itself, but instead, felt cheated and a bit let down by the filmmakers' ultimate "reveal"-- which actually, wasn't even as clear-cut as it should have been either (if you're gonna set up a premise so rich in thought and possibilities, at least have the decency to button my fly once it's all said and done).
But other than the film's unfulfilled ending, as well as a number of "name actors" showing up and having very little to do (I have no idea why Lauren Bacall's name is under Kidman's on the cover of this DVD box -- she was barely in the film -- and how about giving the great Peter Stormare more lines, dammit!), the rest of the film was quite enjoyable, including its tight 90-minute runtime and Kubrickian style and development. One thing I will say is that if you're looking for a dialogue-heavy film with plenty of exposition, this movie is definitely not for you. It's sorta depressing (forget the title... a more suitable moniker would have been DEATH), includes plenty of "dead air", moves at the pace of molasses and ultimately doesn't deliver a clean-cut ending, but I was in a slinky mood, and watching it alone, mulling over the possibilities of its premise and enjoying Kidman's performance and the film's catchy score and minimalistic style, I can't say that I was ever bored or turned off by the movie (and yeah, that includes the scene in which the 10-year old gets naked and jumps into a bathtub with a naked Kidman-- believe you me, it's actually very tastefully done).
All in all, I believe this movie could easily have been one of my favorite films of the year had it completely delivered on its ripe premise, but it ultimately let me down with a somewhat vague ending, as well as a more practical resolution, rather than a deserved spiritual one. See it for its style, Kidman and its engaging premise, but skip it if you're not in a gloomy mood and would rather your films deliver on their psychologically absorbing set-ups. I'd see it again one day though...just to see if I missed something and to enjoy its successful elements again (Note: I just read some stuff about this film and understand it a lot better now. In fact, I like it more now. Just remember the phrase "Don't tell Anna" and its importance).
PS: I hate people who are reincarnated in movies and instead of coming straight out and screaming "Hey everybody, I'm so-and-so and here's why!!!", mope around in silence and in vague responses. Yeah kid, I'm talking to you...speak up, ya prick!
Nada. I really would have loved a commentary track by the director or someone to help clarify, or at the very least, offer some clues toward this film's vague conclusion, but alas, all we get is its intriguing theatrical trailer, as well as some other trailers for New Line Cinema movies.
Having learned a little more about this picture after writing my review, I am a little bit more of a fan of this picture than about an hour ago, especially since I am one to re-watch movies over and over again, particularly if there are lots of bits between the lines. If you like your films cut-and-dry though, you should likely just avoid this film, which also moves quite slowly-- not everybody's taste. The DVD is also as empty as my stomach after puking my guts out after a night of "quarters", so if you're looking for some bonus goodies on top of everything else, this definitely ain't the place for you.