The Unloved, Part 123: Birth | MZS

Jonathan Glazer has always skirted the mainstream without becoming part of it. Maybe it’s his interest in the destruction of the self that will always keep him at arm’s length; maybe it’s a formal alienation that insists you stare headlong into the abyss while he watches you do so. It’s an impish strategy and it has yielded some of the best films made during my lifetime. “Birth” is the film of his that I return to the most and with the heaviest heart, as its view of a New York so brittle it seems poised to snap when a little boy discovers too soon the world of adult betrayal is infinitely relatable and yet a place we’ll never have back, because it broke in the interim. I lived there for almost a decade and saw how far removed it is from what “Birth” showed, the death of it, as well as the beautiful life the city once had. A place for resigned bourgeoisie who know they’re building complacency on the grave of risk and trauma. “Birth” is a eulogy for a nervier time, where genuine danger crept into art.