Life in Upper Manhattan is sweet for Anna (Nicole Kidman), a smart, professional thirtysomething with a gentle manner and breezy take on life. Ten years have passed since the death of her first husband, Sean, and she has finally capitulated and agreed to marry the distinctly agreeable, if a little dull, Joseph (Danny Huston). Joseph is a scion of a well-heeled New York family, most of whom, unusually, live together in a sprawling, old-fashioned apartment lorded over by the acid-tongued but likeable Eleanor (Lauren Bacall), a grand old matriarch of the metropolis.
Then comes an unexpected knock on the door, a deus ex machina that delivers to them a stranger: a ten-year-old boy called Sean (Cameron Bright) who claims to be the reincarnation of Anna’s dead husband. Unsurprisingly, the plot then thickens.
If this sounds like paranormal, sci-fi garbage, don’t be deterred. Glazer has in fact crafted an intoxicating tale that explores notions of disruption, grief, lost love and fear of the future. Like his debut film ‘Sexy Beast’, the former commercials wunderkind shows himself to be a master of mood and place. In ‘Sexy Beast’, it was the ex-pat, ex-crim Spanish lifestyle that was rudely punctured by Ben Kingsley’s sudden arrival. Here, it’s the rarified world of chamber music, opera and family dinner parties that’s spoilt by a grubby little kid from downtown.
The only problem lies in the resolution. Glazer has admitted to spending a long time exploring alternative endings, even after shooting had begun. For me, Sean’s story comes to an abrupt halt, allowing for a startling and moving final scene, but still leaving too many irrelevant and distracting questions begging.