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Birth - Nicole Kidman booed at Venice



Story by: Jack Foley

NICOLE Kidman’s latest film - a controversial drama about a widower who falls in love with a boy after believing her dead husband has been reincarnated in him - has been booed by critics at Venice.

Birth, which played in competition at the showpiece event, is directed by Jonathan Glazer, who also made Sexy Beast, and was seen as a front-runner for the award.

But Kidman was forced to defend the film, following the screening, insisting that she had ‘wanted to make a film where you understand love’.

She continued: "I read the script and it immediately affected me. There was something in this woman I felt I understood and knew.

"I responded to this woman who was in mourning. It wasn't that I wanted to make a film where I kiss a 10-year-old boy."

Among the controversial scenes in the movie, however, are one in which Kidman kisses the boy (played by 11-year-old actor Cameron Bright) on the lips, and another in which they are seen to share a bath. The film's backers, New Line, have been quick to point out, however, that neither actor was naked when the scene was filmed.

But while the film was booed in certain quarters, some critics responded to its themes, with the Guardian's Geoffrey Macnab applauding it as ‘a sleek, intelligent drama which might best be characterised as Vertigo with a kindergarten twist’.

Depending on which article you read, however, Kidman either became frustrated or dealt with the questions competently at the subsequent press conference.

But her co-star, Lauren Bacall, grabbed most of the headlines when she refused to acknowledge Kidman as a screen legend.

"She's not a legend," Bacall interrupted one interviewer, when she referred to Kidman as such. "She's a beginner. What is this legend? She can't be a legend at whatever age she is. She can't be a legend, you have to be older."

And Bacall should know. At the age of 79, she has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, with films such as The Big Sleep and Key Largo, not to mention being the widow of Humphrey Bogart.

Not that there is any antagonism between Kidman and Bacall, who have previously worked together on Dogville.

Bacall insisted that she and Kidman enjoyed a ‘fabulous relationship on screen and off’, while Kidman referred to Bacall, affectionately, as her ‘New York Mom’, giving advice on her private life and leaving delightfully grumpy messages for her.

Birth is due to open in UK cinemas in October.

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