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Kidman stirs up controversy at Venice with 'Birth'
Updated: 2004-09-09 13:52

Hollywood diva Nicole Kidman made waves in Venice Wednesday as a fragile young widow who believes a 10-year-old boy is the reincarnation of her dead husband in the world premiere of "Birth."

Actress Nicole Kidman poses during a photo call at the Venice Lido September 8, 2004. Kidman is starring in British director Jonathan Glazer's movie 'Birth' in competition at the Venice film festival. [Reuters]
The disturbing film by up-and-coming director Jonathan Glazer has already stirred up controversy with provocative scenes of Kidman and the boy naked in a bathtub together.

In another shot, Kidman's character Anna tenderly kisses the young Sean after being convinced that he is indeed her long lost husband.

"I responded to this woman who was in mourning," Kidman told a packed press conference at the Venice Film Festival, where "Birth" is vying for the Golden Lion top prize.

"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.

In an interview with Italy's la Repubblica daily, she denied rumors that racier parts of the bathtub scene had been cut for U.S. audiences.

For the role, Kidman was given a short, dark pixie cut that emphasized her delicate features, but her golden locks had grown back in time for the Venice premiere of the movie.

In "Birth," Anna is finally getting over her husband's death 10 years earlier and preparing to remarry when the mysterious boy appears, declaring he is the reincarnation of Sean.

By revealing details about their relationship that only her dead husband could have known, the boy convinces Anna despite opposition from her wealthy, New York family headed by Eleanor, who is played by a regal Lauren Bacall.


Cameron Bright played the intense, young Sean.

"Playing opposite him, he allowed me to believe he was a man," said Kidman, who arrived in Venice just days after her ex-husband Tom Cruise was in town to promote "Collateral."

A sudden twist of events at the end of "Birth" reveals a movie that is about much more than the paranormal, but also about love, betrayal and self-deceit.

The director of the film festival Marco Muller said Kidman's performance deserved an award.

"Nicole Kidman should definitely win," he told Ciak movie magazine. "If not, I'll be out of a job," he joked.

But the much-hyped film got a mixed reception at a preview screening on the Lido, where some moviegoers jeered. It is up against 21 other films and faces tough competition from the likes of "Vera Drake" by Britain's acclaimed Mike Leigh.

That hasn't stopped fans who have turned out in full force to get glimpses of Kidman and Bacall, referred to as the "Dream Team" by the Italian press, when they head down the red carpet.

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