Birthday Girl (Miramax) begins like any other cutesy romance flick meant to warm your heart during the Valentine’s Day season. But don’t be fooled – after an unexpected twist this “romantic comedy” quickly turns to a poor attempt at a comedic thriller.
Birthday Girl tells the story of an average British 20-something guy who works as a bank clerk and lives a comfortable life based on routine. Like so many people, he is looking for companionship and love. Unlike most of us, though, John Buckinham (Ben Chaplin) decides to buy a bride on the internet from a Russian mail-order service called “From Russia With Love.” Everything seems to be going well, until John discovers that his new “bride” doesn’t speak a word of English. He makes every attempt to return Nadia (Nicole Kidman), but mysteriously “From Russia With Love” does not respond to his phone calls.
John beings to fall in love with Nadia, or so the audience is expected to believe, through a relationship that is based solely on sex. Although many relationships are founded on less, this is the first of many facts that are questionable in Birthday Girl.
After a few days of bliss, Nadia tells John that it is her birthday, and just as he is about to cut the cake an unexpected duo shows up at the door: Nadia’s two “cousins,” Alexi and Yuri. Alexi and Yuri disrupt the intimate and peaceful world that John and Nadia had created, and John becomes an unfortunate victim of circumstance, learning the truth behind the lives of Nadia and her “cousins”.
Nicole Kidman deserves credit for her talent speaking Russian and speaking English with a Russian accent. She embraces the role of Russina bride Nadia seamlessly. Ben Chaplin proves himself as an excellent comedic actor. The movie’s many laughs mostly come from Chaplin’s character’s bizarre expressions and habits.
While this movie can be considered a comedy, the amount of violence toward Kidman’s character will disturb most viewers. Although audiences have become fairly desensitized to Hollywood violence, its presence in this movie is unnecessary. The audience is supposed to accept that John is so in love with Nadia that he will do anything for her, but by the end one realizes John is just an idiot.
Kidman fans should check this one out, and it might do for a night out with your significant other. But if you’re searching for light uncomplicated romance, Birthday Girl is a bit heavy and might be best left for another day.