movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by SpiritFlare who calls it... "slightly overated, especially about the controversial scenes, and leaves the viewer a little disappointed because our expectations are set up for so much more..yet, by the end of the film, we're left hanging..it feels pretty incomplete somehow, like the movie hasn't come full circle."
The movie opens up in Central Park, Manhattan. It is winter, snowflakes are lightly falling. We see a jogger, the camera takes a birdseye view, his back is always turned to us, as he weaves along the trail. A considerable amount of time is spent following the jogger, until he reaches an overpass. He doesn't emerge from the other side - unfortunately, he has collapsed, and we can assume, is dead. The camera hovers over his body for a minute or so, with a orchestral string chorus playing in the background.
Pan - we see Anna (Kidman) at a cemetery..standing in front of a grave (apparently her deceased husband's) and she briefly touches the headstone, lingers for a moment.. and heads to the car, where a man is waiting (Danny Huston) who we later find out is her new fiancee Joseph. She gets in the car, wipes a tear from her eye, smiles at Joseph, and they drive away. Supposedly this is her final "goodbye".
Suddenly we shift to a hospital delivery room.. we see a baby recently having been born, naked and wriggling.. again, we can assume this "Birth" has a connection to the events we have just seen.
We now shift to an apartment complex.. it looks like a trendy, exclusive Manhattan neighboorhood. There are people entering the building with gifts in their hands. We go into the building and see people entering the elevator - obviously someone is having a party. A minute later, we are taken inside and we see a man giving a speech - it is Joseph. He tells the crowd how he met his wife..proposed to her, how she played hard to get, and has now finally accepted his marriage proposal. We are introduced to some of the visitors and we see Anna enter the room and start welcoming the guests.
We now visit the lobby of the building, and we see a couple waiting to go up the elevator - it is Clara (Anne Heche) and her husband Clifford (Peter Stomare). Clara makes some excuse to her husband about returning to the car to get a "ribbon" for their present, which she forgot. Her husband goes up to the party alone, and is met by Anna, who greets him like an old friend.
In the meantime, the camera follows Clara outside. She doesn't return to the car..but rather, she takes the gift and walks into the park, where she walks into the bushes and buries the gift under some leaves. This is pretty unusual. What exactly is she doing? The meaning will later become apparent. As she digs a hole under the leaves, we see a little boy, Sean (played by Cameron Bright), watching her, unbeknowngst to Clara. She's not alone as she obviously imagines - she finishes burying the gift, dusts her hands, and heads down the street to a convienience store, where she manages to locate another "gift" - it looks like a mirror to me. She has the clerk wrap it, and she exits, and quickly makes her way back to her waiting husband at the party. At this point, all of this looks pretty weird, and we're left wondering "Who is the little boy and what the heck is Anne Heche doing!
Back at the party, we are introduced to some more guests, everyone is having a good ole time. Now that all the introductions to the main characters have been made, the party draws to a close, and the next time we are in the bedroom for a very livid lovemaking scene between Anna and Joseph.
The next day, we see Anna is at the lunch table with her sister, her mother Eleanor (played by Lauren Bacall) and her ex brother-in law Bob (the dead man in the park Sean's brother). It is mom's birthday - a cake is brought out, everyone at the table is in a joyous mood. As the last couple to enter the apartment are late (we were told at the table that they would be late), we see them received by the maid and just before she closes the door, the same little boy we saw watching Clara in the park bury the engagement present sneaks in. The couple ask him if he is with his parents for Anna's mother's birthday, but he shakes his head and asks to speak to Anna. They bring him in the room where everyone is supposedly eating their cake, and he introduces himself and asks to speak privately to Anna in the kitchen. Perhaps a little bewildered, if not amused, Anna agrees. In the kitchen, the boy tells Anna he is Sean..her deceased husband. At first, Anna is unsure what to think of it - she laughs, asks him more about who he REALLY is..but the boy is persistent in a pretty weird way. Finally, after he keeps insisting he is Sean, her dead hubby, Anna gets pretty p***** off and grabs him by his jacket and rushes him out of the apartment. She takes him downstairs and asks the concierge if he knows who the boy is. The concierge says he does "His name is Sean". Hmmmmmm. Anna, still pretty annoyed, hands the concierge a $20 bill and asks him to call a cab and send Sean home. She then returns to her mother's birthday party..and relates what happened. Everyone at the table seems a little amused, but you can't help feeling there's a creepy vibe in the air, after what the boy has told Anna. Well..they all laugh and think that's the last they will see (or hear) of Sean.
The next morning, as Anna leaves for work, the concierge hands her a letter. She doesn't have time to check it, and she rushes off. We see her at her office, and she's apparently some executive big shot due to the luxury of the building she works in and the clientele and her colleagues that we see sharing the boardroom with her. She is also on a firstname basis with them, as someone interrupts her meeting to tell her her sister has delivered a new baby girl. Ah..another reason to take her mind off what the little boy has said. In another moment, she opens the letter, and behold, it's from the little stalker boy "DON'T MARRY JOSEPH - SEAN" We watch as the camera pans to Anna's face - there is some amusement, but we can also see that she is a little anxious.
She finishes her day and heads home, to meet her fiancee, Joseph who asks her how her day went. She relates the story about how she received the letter from the concierge..and Joseph asks her why he didn't tell her about it earlier. She says she didn't have the time. She goes to take a bath, and Joseph seems a little more than curious, as he picks up the phone and calls the concierge - he starts to talk in the receiver, asking who the kid is...but guess who answers? Yes - it's the creepy kid! The concierge has taken a break and asked Sean to hold the fort. Joseph hangs up..and tells Anna her ex-husband is downstairs.
Now, the couple is pretty annoyed, and Joseph goes downstairs to confront the kid. He asks the kid where his dad is, to which the boy replies "My dad is a tutor" and he walks in the elevator. Apparently they are going to his parents apartment, where Joseph is going to have a chat with Sean's dad to clear this up once and for all. When they ring the doorbell, the mother opens, she looks weary, and Joseph asks for the dad. The kid's father comes to the door, and Joseph picks up his cell and dials Anna, and asks her to come downstairs to the boy's apartment. By the time Anna has arrived, we see Sean's father telling him to stop harassing the couple..to which Sean says "I CANT". They ask him again to stop harassing Anna and Joseph, to which Sean replies once again "I CANT". Anna even confronts Sean, and tells him "Do you know you're hurting me".. to which the kid just gives her back this ghostly stare...Creepy. Repeatedly, Sean's father asks him to stop harassing them, and the kid persistently refuses. Finally, everyone tires of this, and Anna and Joseph walk away, and she turns around and tells the kid "I am going to marry Joseph - you're not Sean".. and the boy collapses or faints...Very weird.
All of this is rather disturbing to Anna, and you can see it etched on her face as her and Joseph visit the opera - this is a pinnacle moment in the film, as you see the camera spends a good 5 minutes intently focusing on Anna's (Kidman) face while the orchestra plays in the background. You can see every emotion surface in her eyes as she confronts what she has been told and you can see her trying to wrestle some sense out of it, and the anxiety and the grief are all surfacing.
Now we see Sean going to bed...he's all tucked in, and his mother is coming over to kiss him goodnight..to which Sean blurts out "I'm not your stupid son anymore", as he turns away from his now distressed mother and goes to sleep.
The next day, the camera pans to Anna's answering machine. Anna's mother is home, and she hears Sean leaving a message on Anna's machine "Anna - stop being silly about this - meet me at the park - you know where." ...Spooky Music.
Anna and her mother have a lunch date, and over lunch, Anna's mother tells her about the message. Of course, this upsets Anna again, but this time, she's determined to meet the boy and confront him. She heads to the park, and finds "the spot" which of course is the tunnel/overpass where her ex-husband died. Out of the tunnel, on cue, emerges the little boy. Anna asks him who he is, and he says "I'm Sean..your husband". She rebuttles him, telling him she doesn't believe him, and that he's just a little boy. He insists he is telling her the truth, and tells her: "If I answer all your questions, will you believe me?" She continues to deny him and walks away.
The next day, Bob (the ex brother-in law) who is still the family friend, and also a doctor as we find out, agrees to question the little boy some more if Anna can bring him over. Anna calls Sean's mother and gets permission if the boy can come over to which the mother readily agrees, telling Anna how Sean said he wasn't her son anymore - and has been saying other things, like he's a dead guy come back, etc, etc. Obviously the mother wants any help for her son, so off Sean goes to Anna's apartment. This time, Bob, the ex-brother in law doctor is waiting. He asks Sean a few questions, and tells him he will tape their conversation. He starts to ask the boy some general questions, and the boy gets them right. He then tells Sean he's going to ask him some more questions which couldn't be "overheard" or looked up, etc.. Sean gets them right again. Now we can see Bob is pretty disturbed, especially when Sean starts telling him things about his own life which rings true.
By now, Bob plays the tape in front of Anna's mother, her sister, Joseph and a few of their close friends. They all feel bewildered and start to second guess themselves. Could it be true this really is Sean? They watch the boy walk around the house, touching stuff and claiming "This was my old desk", "This is where I sat..."
Anna wants to figure this out some more, so she calls up the boy's mother again, and asks if Sean can spend the night - the mom agrees- probably thinking the rich folks can "fix" whatever issue her son has. So that night, the boy sleeps on the couch, Joseph walks by just as the boy is falling asleep and warns him "You can fool everyone..but you don't fool me - the only reason you're spending the night is because Anna wants this to end!" Joseph is pretty p***** off by all of this, and you can tell.
They return to Anna's apartment, and we see her sitting in her bathtub, and lo and behold - here's the most talked about Controversial scene in the movie: little Sean walks in, takes off his shirt, takes off his little Y-front underwear and gets in the tub with Anna. He sits at the opposite end of the tub away from Anna, and she asks him "What are you doing", to which he replies "Looking at my Wife". Now there's someone opening the bathroom door - It's Joseph. He's holding his hand on the other side of the bathroom door, about to come in, but doesn't - and you can see the angst on his face as he struggles with what this is doing to his relationship - the bathroom door handle being the metaphorical symbol of the division that now exists between them, and how this is slowly destroying their lives.
However, this has obviously disturbed Anna to the extent that she wants to go ahead and prove to herself (and Sean) she is not convinced. The next morning, she gets permission from Sean's mother to extend his stay by a little, she wants Sean to "hear the music" and wants him to see she's going to go ahead and marry Joseph. She also goes over to her friends place - Clara (the lady who buried the "gift" in the park in the beginning of the movie played by Anne Heche) and her husband Clifford (Stormare) and begs them to come over and talk to the little boy saying "she doesn't want to fall in love with Sean again..and it's happening".. they tell her it's NOT Sean, but by now, Anna is so emotionally distressed and torn, I doubt she knows what to believe, but Clifford agrees to come by later and help her.
Cut Scene - we now see Anna and Joseph and all of their friends in a wedding recital..as the music plays, little Sean, who is sitting behind Joseph and Anna, innocently (or maybe not) kicks Joseph's chair. Joseph turns around, and yells at the boy "I WANT YOU TO STOP DOING THAT RIGHT NOW". A few minutes later, the boy resumes kicking Joseph's chair leg. This time, Joseph, in whom the stress has been building all this time, and having no outlet, explodes, and lunges for the little boy, murder in his eyes! After wrestling the kid to the ground, he is pulled off by 3 of his friends. Sean runs away, to which Joseph throws (or rather) pushes the piano after him, trying to squash him. By now, all hell has broken loose and Joseph manages to catch the boy, turn him on his lap, and is about to administer the beating of a lifetime, all the while shouting expletives, before he is finally wrestled away and calms down for the moment. Of course, Anna has witnessed this and is shocked at her fiancee's violent outburst, not to mention the other guests are horrified. By now, Sean has escaped, and Anna rushes out to see him standing on the street - staring at her, just before he boards his bus home - she walks over to him, and they both gaze into each others eyes before exchanging a lip kiss.
That night, Joseph packs his bags and moves out of the apartment. Not good. This is obviously the end of the relationship.
The next day, Anna meets Sean and they spend the day together - she shares a malt/sundae with him, and asks him how he'll "meet her needs" and if he's ever "made love to a girl" to which the little boy replies: "You'll be my first." Uh oh - Anna (Kidman) has really lost it by now. She now has to hatch a plan to be with her reincarnated lover! That night, now that Joseph has moved out, guess who moves in. Well, not exactly moves in, but Sean gets to spend another night with Anna.
Cut scene - Anna puts Sean to bed. We're with Anna and her mom and sister in the kitchen, and they're both supremly p***** off with Anna - I think Momma got wind of the boy sharing the bathtub scene, because she mutters to Anna "It's illegal!" and her sister tells her to send the boy back home ASAP. They convince her what she doing is wrong, and that she should go back to Joseph and tell him this is all a mistake. Anna of course, by now, is absolutely convinced Sean is her reincarnated husband, and she angrily refuses to do any such thing. She storms off, telling her sister to get out of her way.
Cut to her in a taxi cab with Sean - she taking him home to his mother as promised earlier, and his head is in her lap. When Sean asks her, what are we going to do, she strokes his hair and tells him she has a master plan for them to be together.
The next day, Sean is again over at Anna's, but this time there is a visitor knocking on the door. Sean answers the door - it is Clara (Anne Heche) - remember the lady who buried the "gift" in the beginning of the movie? She asks Sean if he remembers her...to which he says "Nope". She then shows him dirty hands (has she been doing more digging?) and asks him to take her to the bathroom so she can wash her hands. Once they get there, she asks him to come inside and close the door. In the bathroom, she washes her hands, and tells him to dry them. She tells him she knows who he REALLY is, and asks him to come to her house later. He agrees and says "Don't tell Anna!"
Cut scene: Clara's house. Sean is there, and Clara asks him to open up his school knapsack, which incidentally, Sean has been carrying almost everywhere throughtout the film. What's inside? Sean refuses to show Clara, and they start wrestling for the bag..Sean rushes out of the apartment, and Clara follows him..trying to pull the knapsack away from him. In the corridor, she finally gets it, and we see them both sitting at Clara's table, as Anna goes through the contents, with Sean looking obviously distressed. Clara tells him "I Knew you couldn't be Sean when I first saw you...because if you were really Sean, you would have come to ME first." Sean asks Clara who she is, and she says: ***SPOILER ALERT *** "I was Sean's lover...Anna was your wife..but I was your lover.. and if you were really Sean, you would have KNOWN that!" Furthermore, in the knapsack is all of the love letters she had received from Sean while he was still alive, letters that Anna wrote to Sean which he in turn gave unopened to Clara to show how much he loved her. She goes on to tell the boy "You see - I originally brought those letters over to the party that night and I was going to deliver the unopened letters to Anna..but then I changed my mind!" Ahhhhh...that's why she buried the "gift" in the park...and guess who was watching? Yep - Sean is caught red-handed and exposed for who he really is. He opened up all the letters and garnished the information he used against Anna, claiming to be her dead husband.
Furthermore, Clara tells him - "You can't go around pretending you're someone you're not!" to which Sean says "Well..i can't be Sean..because if Sean was in love with you (Clara), I'm in love with Anna, so I'm not Sean". So much for the logic. Seans gets up, and runs out into the night, runs into the park, climbs into a tree and goes to think about all he has done to destroy Anna and Joseph's marriage, and how he has now been exposed. The cops patrolling the park at night find him, and ask him who he is, to which he rambles off exactly what has happened "umm..i'm in love with Anna, but Sean really loved Clara, so I can't be Sean, because I'm in love with Anna" to which the officers are ready to send him to the loony bin, but he escapes, and runs off to Anna's apartment, all muddy and dirty.
When he shows up there, she sends him to the bath to get cleaned up, and she wanders in, and tells him she finally has a plan for them to be together. At this point, Sean looks up and says "I'm not Sean". Cut Scene to Anna's face. She's not impressed. After more prodding, he vaguely rambles something about "I can't tell you..because I'm in love with you" to which Anna replies "You make no sense" (finally, is she seeing the light?) and follows it up with "You're just a little boy in my bathtub". That says it all.
The next day, Anna goes back grovelling to Joseph's office and begs him to take her back, saying it was all a mistake and that it wasn't her fault - she had to act that way. After some mulling, Joseph says OK -he'll take her back, and they start planning the long overdue May wedding.
Cut scene - Anna's wedding day at her mother's beach house. We see all the bridesmaids and groomsmen - Anna looks beautiful and she's getting her photo taken by a photographer. Now we transposed to Sean's school - he's getting his class photos done, and we hear his voice, apparently in a letter to Anna, apologizing for what's he done, and saying he is undergoing treatment under the care of a psychiatrist and that the doctors have told him all this was just a "spell" and the spell is now broken.
The next minute, we see Anna running off..leaving her wedding...she's now standing by the ocean, where the waves are breaking..looking distressed..does she want to kill herself ? All the emotions she has been bottling inside have finally exploded on this day - Joseph comes running after her, grabbing her, consoling her, as they both stand in the water, waves breaking around them. They both start to slowly walk back to the shore, her wedding dress is ruined, she's soaking wet..
CUT SCENE to the beginning of the movie: We are again in a hospital delivery room.. we see a baby recently having been born, naked and wriggling.. again, we can assume this "Birth" has a connection to the events we have just seen....and the camera fades to black.