Da, John is a really lucky fellow. In Jez Butterworth's romantic thriller
BIRTHDAY GIRL, John Buckingham has just received delivery of a Russian mail
order bride named Nadia. She may not be able to communicate verbally in
English, but she makes up for it with physical communication in bed. And
against the wall, etc. Although John has some early hesitation and trepidation
about her, she looks to be a real keeper.
A perfectly cast Ben Chaplin and Nicole Kidman play this young couple with a
strange attraction to one another. Chaplin is great as a quiet everyman clerk
who is trusted and respected by his peers at the bank where he has worked
diligently for the last ten years. Other than a secret proclivity for bondage
magazines, John is just as mild mannered and honest as he appears. With
penetrating, playful eyes and a wicked yet innocent little smile, Kidman charms
us just as much as Nadia does John.
The fun and games start on Nadia's birthday, when a couple of her "cousins,"
Yuri (Vincent Cassel) and Alexei (Mathieu Kassovitz), drop in from Russia to
help her celebrate. The first problem that John has with these gregarious guys
is that it's not clear when they plan on returning to Mother Russia. It won't
be John's last.
BIRTHDAY GIRL is a fun little film that takes as many satisfyingly predictable
turns as it does ones that come completely unexpected. Not until the end are
you quite sure where the story is headed and how Nadia and John's turbulent
romance will end up.
The movie's only disappointment comes when Nadia finally begins to speak. It is
a real treat watching Kidman act without benefit of dialog, which she pulls off
masterfully. It's too bad that she couldn't have been allowed to finish the
BIRTHDAY GIRL runs 1:33. It is rated R for "sexuality and language" and would
be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes