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Birthday Girl (2002)

Nicole Kidman , Vincent Cassel , Jez Butterworth  |  R |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nicole Kidman, Vincent Cassel, Ben Chaplin, Mathieu Kassovitz, Kate Lynn Evans
  • Directors: Jez Butterworth
  • Writers: Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth
  • Producers: Colin Leventhal, Diana Phillips, Donna Grey, Julie Goldstein, Paul Webster
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: August 13, 2002
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067J3P
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,057 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Birthday Girl" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind the scenes featurette
  • Music video

Editorial Reviews

If Birthday Girl is a far-fetched thriller, it's also a slice of absurdist fun populated by some awfully interesting actors. Nicole Kidman plays Sophia, a chain-smoking, mascara-smudged, wildly sexual mail-order bride from Russia who answers an Internet plea for companionship from a lonely British bank employee, John (Ben Chaplin). For a while, the two make a startling and intriguing pair: she apparently speaks no English and he naively frets over the veracity of the Web business that brought them together. The gorgeous Kidman and sad-eyed Chaplin are briefly the engine of their own unique movie, but then the other shoe drops. Sophia, obviously up to something mysterious, is paid a visit on her birthday by two Russian "cousins" (French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz and one of his own frequent stars, Vincent Cassel, also seen in Brotherhood of the Wolf). Suddenly, John's quest for a lover becomes a web of deceit and corruption. Directed and cowritten (with his brother Tom) by Jez Butterworth, Birthday Girl is hampered a bit by sluggishness and insufficient character development. But it is also original and strikingly entertaining. Tom Keogh

Product Description

The irresistible Nicole Kidman (MOULIN ROUGE, THE OTHERS) powers a sexy thriller where appearances can be deceiving and nothing ends as expected! A lonely and repressed bank employee, John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin, THE THIN RED LINE) desperately wants to meet the right girl. Then, through a Russian mail-order bride service, he is introduced to Nadia (Kidman), a quiet and attractive woman who doesn't speak English. After several sensual encounters, John's fondness for Nadia grows ... until the sudden arrival of Nadia's two gregarious cousins makes John realize that he's in over his head. Acclaimed by critics everywhere, this unpredictably entertaining hit will keep you guessing as it keeps you on the edge of your seat!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected December 23, 2003
By Magneto
I was compelled to write this review to defend the movie against the mostly negative criticism it has received. I watched it recently, and enjoyed it more than I expected to. I don't know why it is, but people just don't like to have their movie genres mixed-up. Yes you could say it's part romantic comedy, part thriller, part drama...but so was "Nurse Betty" and that's a really good film. In places the film is laugh-out-loud funny (usually from one of Ben Chaplin's lines), and at other times it's serious. Both Kidman and Chaplin give good performances, and the pace is kept reasonably tight with a not-too-long running time. Kidman is convincing as the russian mail order bride, and Chaplin delivers most of the film's laughs. I liked it near the end when Kidman turns the joke of saying "yes" to everything back on Chaplin!. My only point of contention with the movie (***POSSIBLE SPOILER***) is where Chaplin's character is forced to rob a bank...why didn't he just go straight to the police? This bothered me for a while, but by the end of the movie I was willing to overlook it.Ebert & Roeper (who gave it two thumbs down) said the movie was "predictable" - to me it was anything BUT predictable. Unless you want your movies neatly filed under distinctive categories/genres, I urge you to give this film a may be surprised.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The critics should really have merci... November 17, 2002
By A Customer
Imagine Nicole Kidman with black hair and tons of black eye shadow. Can't imagine that? Then see the much-delayed British film "Birthday Girl." Originally scheduled for release in September 2000, this crime comedy was filmed while Kidman was still married to Tom Cruise. She wasn't nearly as famous then as she is now, after starring last year in two award-worthy films - "Moulin Rouge" and "The Others."
In comparison, "Birthday Girl" looks and feels low budget. Which it is. That doesn't make it a bad picture. Kidman's deadpan humor is slyly diverting, and her fake Russian accent is delivered with such a lack of pretension, her role as a mail-order bride from Moscow is cute. But after Kidman's year of living famously Hollywood-style, you can bet she won't be appearing in any more pictures like this.
Here she plays a Russian mail-order bride, showing up at the international flights gate of London's airport to meet her computer-matched mail-order buyer, John Buckingham. He is played as a perpetually befuddled bank clerk by Ben Chaplin - exactly the sort of role that brought Hugh Grant so much box office success in the 1990s. For the first two-thirds of "Birthday Girl," Kidman doesn't have any lines in English at all. She speaks Russian. No word, yet, on how she sounds to Russian ears.
This picture is set in the London commuter suburb of St. Albans, filled with new generic architecture where colorless John Buckingham puts in long hours at work, then spends his free time feeling quite lonely. Though John has a sparkling suburban cottage with a big back yard, he always turns to his computer for release - surfing Websites that offer chances to meet beautiful Russian women. Spotting a picture of Nadia (Kidman), and biographic info claiming she is fluent in English, he signs up.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underated but stunning, what else is new? June 26, 2002
Birthday Girl just proves yet again that Nicole Kidman is the best actress on the Hollywood scene today. In this movie, she pulls off Russian and a Russian accent very believably.
Ben Chaplin is also excellent in this film. He, like this film, may be one of the most underrated actors I can think of. He delievers every line like it's the most vital in the scrip, and it's just moving to watch someone so into their role. The pair have massive chemistry on screen, and you feel it from when they first meet in the airport until the last line.
This movie, about a British man and his mail-order bride from Russia, manages to entangle you in a web of unexpected suspense, dark humor, and erotic romance. Many movies fail at every attempt to mix genres, but it works for Birthday Girl.
This film does take a certain tase, however. This movie plays more like a very well-made indie film than it does a Hollywood blockbuster hit. It has amazing action and runs at a fast pace, which does set it apart from many indies.
If you've seen the trailer for this movie and read about it and think you'd like it, believe me then, you will.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange story but well told August 20, 2002
Whatever may be wrong with this film (and there are things that just simply don't work, including the somewhat claustrophbic camera work) the end result is a tantalizingly strange tale with very strong acting on the parts of Nicole Kidman and Ben Chaplin. Kidman may be close to Meryl Streep in her ability to absorb dialects, other languages, and accents. It is refreshing to see actors of this caliber take on a film that they probably knew wasn't going to be a box office hit, but just wanted the challenge of the script, the director, and the roles. Worthwhile.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Actors, Weak Plot August 15, 2002
By JulieS
I'll first say that I thought that Nicole Kidman had an excellent Russian accent. It was interesting to see her sort of de-glamourized and looking darker and almost slutty (but she didn't really look Russian either). And Ben Chaplin was good, as were the other actors. But the plot of this movie is generally weak and sort of seemed like one of those movies that you've already seen before at some point. It's all about this lonely introverted English guy who orders a mail order bride from Russia and then she turns out to be quite different than she appears. All the acting was good but the plot seemed very forced and unrealistic at points, like it was trying to be either gritty or artistic and not really convincing at either mode.
I guess in a way, this was like "Pretty Woman Gone Bad." For some reason, this movie reminded me of The Center of the World, another good but flawed movie. But The Center of the World had a much darker ending which seemed more realistic to me. If you are a Nicole Kidman fan, you'll probably rush out and rent this, otherwise, you might just wait until it shows up on cable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars OK movie
The movie is about a guy who finds a russian bride on the internet. Needless to say, things go wrong. Suspenseful, some action. Overall, worth watching.
Published 6 months ago by Stanley Fernandes
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Kidman, half-good movie
"Birthday Girl" is an excellent vehicle for Nicole Kidman. It shows her talent far more than more popular movies have done. Unfortunately, it falters half way through. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Paul Johnston
3.0 out of 5 stars Birthday girl
Not a bad movie. Been done before, dialogue somewhat weak, but overall well acted. Nicole Kidman is her usual "girl next door" sensual, which is always a pleasure to watch (re: To... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Br
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Film!
Pretty cool and different type movie! It makes me think about getting a mail-order bride! I just hope she does what Nicole Kidman is willing to do!
Published 18 months ago by MTB Ninja
3.0 out of 5 stars bad subject matter but good acting
This movie was about a guy who had a secure job at a bank that he had stayed with for years earning some respect. He had a nice house (even for England). He had a decent life. Read more
Published on February 26, 2012 by S. T. Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Birthday
Dark comedy. Funny but drama, too. I enjoyed this DVD. Nicole Kidman rocks. The guy is extremely funny playing a quiet, introverted role, but who really comes out of his shell as... Read more
Published on June 29, 2011 by J. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Import A Woman!
Here we go again, back to 2001, for my revisitation of the early 2000s in film!

Birthday Girl starts with Ben Chaplin, a solitary man seeking a woman. Read more
Published on February 23, 2011 by Burt Lee Liberty
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite amazing!
A decent piece of film-making here, right from the beginning you are engaged and engrossed completely in the story, the characters and every situation that occur. Read more
Published on November 14, 2010 by Ankur Mukherjee
4.0 out of 5 stars different... very different
Birthday Girl is a film I highly recommend for anyone who loves weird and unpredictable storytelling. Read more
Published on April 26, 2010 by B. E Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars From Russia With Love
Ben Chaplin gives an underplayed and terrific performance as a regular guy in England who knows that everyone is not lucky enough to meet the love of their life by chance. Read more
Published on April 2, 2010 by Bobby Underwood
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