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Birthday Girl
cast: Nicole Kidman, Ben Chaplin, Vincent Cassel, and Mathieu Kassovitz

director: Jez Butterworth

90 minutes (15) 2001
FilmFour VHS retail [18 November]

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Amy C. Adair
Having just come off a Moulin Rouge! hangover, I was anxious to see more of the incredibly talented and alluring Nicole Kidman (Tom Cruise eat your heart out). This movie was no disappointment in that area. Kidman shines as a Russian email-order bride sent to a lonely Englishman (Ben Chaplin). Credit should be given to her Russian speech teacher - she speaks little English in the film. The role is complex, and she plays it very well.

film poster

The story starts off rather slowly. The audience is introduced to John and given time to wonder why such a normal looking man would want or need a mail-order bride. Nothing of the plot really begins to take off until Kidman appears on the screen. But the audience soon sees that there is more to this movie than a relationship drama. Without giving away any important plot points, I will say that something happens that disrupts John's plan to just get a Russian bride and the just live happily ever after. Circumstances turn around with the appearance of a 'bad guy' and the intrigue of money, and the movie becomes more Pulp Fiction than The Horse Whisperer.
   This movie explores the relationships of characters, and the ideas of love, loneliness, and greed. It's not a feelgood movie, but it works.