Fantasia Festival: Birth/Rebirth (2023)

Director: Laura Moss

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Starring: Judy Reyes, Marin Ireland, A.J. Lister, Breeda Wool

Making her feature directorial-debut, Laura Moss centers her story around two women working in the same hospital; Rose (Marin Ireland), a morgue technician with little patience for the living, and maternity nurse Celie (Judy Reyes), who balances her hard work with raising her six-year-old daughter, Lila (A.J. Lister).

Fate takes a horrific turn when Lila passes away, leaving Celie grieving and blaming herself for not seeing her daughter one last time. When Lila's body cannot be found, Celie tracks down Rose where she discovers her colleague's attempts at reanimation. As the two women are smashed into each other's lives, they are dropped down a grisly rabbit hole of desperate decisions.

Central to this film are a pair of exceptional performances capturing the dual leads. Ireland effectively depicts Rose's clinical nature, focusing on facts with little consideration for feelings as she dives into making her experimental side-project a success. While Reyes is best known for playing Carla in TV's Scrubs, she is exceptional in this less comedic hospital set role. Every moment of Celia's struggle is tremendously depicted, as her struggle at comprehending her daughter's passing leads to her holding onto the resurrected version in spite of clear differences.

Adapting a script she co-wrote with Brendan J. O'Brien, Moss delivers a modern take on Frankenstein through a maternal lens. Rose gives her all to fulfil her experimental work, shockingly finding resources in ways closer than expected, while Celia grapples with moral compromises through this situation. While the story may waver in holding ones attention, what is offered is a bleak exploration of motherhood in this promising feature debut.

Birth/Rebirth made its Quebec Premiere at Fantasia Festival 2023