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Birthday Girl

3.5 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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(Aug 13, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

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!

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

Special Features

  • Behind the scenes featurette
  • Music video

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, Eric Abraham, Julie Goldstein
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067J3P
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,716 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Birthday Girl" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
Suppose you are living in St. Albans, peaceful suburb of England where nothing is likely happen, and working for a small office in a bank, leading a routine life, just Ben Chaplin does in "Birthday Girl." Then, you get tired of your uneventful life, with no prospect of promotion or finding a new love around you.
Ben Chaplin's character John, inspite of his better judgment, orders a Russian bride on the Internet. Her name is Nadia, who arrives at airport as beautiful Nicole Kidman (perfectly in character). Of course, John is delighted to meet her, but despite what was written on the site, Nadia cannot speak English at all. Not only that, but she starts chainsmoking in his car.
But anyway, John falls in love with Nadia, who is as sexy as Satine in Paris, but later on arrive a pair of uninvited guests from Russia (Vincent Cassel, "Crimson River"; and Matthieu Kassovitz, "Amelie") : these guys are, they claim, the old aquaintances of Nadia, who is not unhappy to meet them again. And with the arrival of those two unwelcome people, John's happy life changes into a nightmare, full of dangers and suspense.
Some sources may categorize "Birthday Girl" as thriller, but the fact is the film is more like a farce surrounding the character of John and Nadia. It has a romantic side, which is sometimes very touching, but the film itself should be called a downbeat, understated romantic comedy. There are some potentially violent elements, but director knows how to handle them with care, not letting them hinder us from appreciating the best part of the film: femme fatale image of Nicole Kidman.
As you may imagine, "Birthday Girl" is Nicole Kidman's film.
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