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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Although I don't hesitate in saying this film is brilliant - I do think that it will only suit certain tastes. Do you like the strange comedy of Black Books? Do you mind your comedy being mixed in with serious drama? Nicole Kidman is in fine form in this strange, off-beat tale about three russian con artists who manage to trick the leading man into robbing a bank. The...
Published on 6 Mar 2003

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Missing
I felt that there was something missing watching Birthday Girl. There is some good acting at times from the all the cast especially the “Russians” but with a simple and somewhat predictable plot, this comedy drama was not what I was expecting – having read reviews on amazon before buying it.

I hoped that it might have been well acted (which...
Published 1 month ago by andy


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 6 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Although I don't hesitate in saying this film is brilliant - I do think that it will only suit certain tastes. Do you like the strange comedy of Black Books? Do you mind your comedy being mixed in with serious drama? Nicole Kidman is in fine form in this strange, off-beat tale about three russian con artists who manage to trick the leading man into robbing a bank. The actual heist is very well done, and there is a cameo from one of the 'Smack the pony' actresses that is certain to bring on the laughs. That said, there are far darker elements to this story. The screen boyfriend of Nicole for example - when he's losing it and starting to threaten people, it is all the more worrying because he speaks Russian, and we are only given subtitles. We feel that we are shut out, much as the leading character of the film is.
To say that this is a laugh a minute, laugh out loud comedy would be wrong. To say that it is a well thought out, thought provoking story that leaves you feeling better about life, would be more along the right track. Once again Kidman proves that she is a wonderful actress, and here she is not let down by the rest of the cast, who also do a good job.
If you like your comedy to be intelligent, then this is the one to get.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy, scary, funny, 4 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
It all starts off as a gentle laugh - the mail-order Russian bride who doesn't speak English, and the comic worries of being a desparate bank clerk. Ho hum, looks like a BBC sitcom, humorous but not really all that funny.
I was lured into the comfort zone, just as the Director wanted - when it all turned dangerous, I was just as surprised (and scared) as he wanted me to be. I felt just as betrayed as the lead character himself, and I must say I didn't feel much like forgiving Nicole Kidman once she needed help later in the film. All I can say is that this was exquisitely acted, with Nicole Kidman sexy as usual as a Russian trojan horse.
This is what Channel4 films are all about - it's not Hollywood, it's not Shakespeare, and it's certainly not predictable. It's just different - and that's the point.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Candles Wont Burn For Long, 10 April 2003
By 
Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
This off-beat British comedy directed by Jez Butterworth is a story of melancholy middle class bank teller, Ben Chaplin, who longs for a bit of companionship. As with so many modern men of today, he resorts to the internet and stumbles upon a website for mail-order Russian brides. Here he finds Nadia, Nicole Kidman, whom he orders only to find she is not what he expected. The building comedy turns quickly into a thrilling story of a betrayed man on the run. Yet, this film remains consistently light in its tone despite the dark subjects of abuse and unwanted pregnancy it could allow to overwhelm it.
These well-known and respected actors do a fantastic job in their performances especially the Frenchmen Vincent Cassel & Mathieu Kassovitz and popular red-head Nicole Kidman, none of whom spoke Russian before this film and all do a convincing job of it. Not only that, but the language barrier draws out numerous quirky expressions from the actors showing their real talent. The film is beautifully shot, alternately filmed in the UK and Australia, with captivating scenes in the forest where the characters work out their plight. Ultimately, not a tremendously memorable film, but one that is skilfully designed and keeps some good laughs. What's enduring is the more realistic human aspect it contains and would probably lack if it were an American romantic-comedy. Surely it won't be a blockbuster as one might expect from its stars, but it is plenty of fun.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect a sweet movie here!, 21 Mar 2004
By 
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Don't let the cover or title fool you. Birthday Girl is actually a drama, not a comedy. It is a fine drama at that too. Nicole Kidman once again delivers a convincing role, this time as a Russian bride who seeks a new life in London. To do this, she marries Ben Chaplin in one of those Russian Internet bride order procedures. She has a deep secret, which I wont disclose.
Worth watching, and was better than I expected (considering it flopped at the Box Office).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday Girl, 8 Sep 2008
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] (DVD)
Very funny, sexy and a little bit scary..... classic Ben Chaplin as a convincingly sad Banker-with-a-silent-W, Nicole Kidman almost unrecognisable and Russian. If you like a spot of bondage with your bank job this is the film for you.
First viewing leaves you a bit breathless with its climax ! but it is a funnier film from its second viewing with delightful cameo appearances from League of Gentlemen and Smack the Pony comedy genius'.
This film was delayed in its release and sadly missed its perfect window a year before when mail order brides where headline news, so became more cult than mainstream which is a pity because it is a must-see, the acting is faultless, the comedy spontaneous and beautifully black.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Something Missing, 18 July 2014
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This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
I felt that there was something missing watching Birthday Girl. There is some good acting at times from the all the cast especially the “Russians” but with a simple and somewhat predictable plot, this comedy drama was not what I was expecting – having read reviews on amazon before buying it.

I hoped that it might have been well acted (which it was), funny (which, and given the subjective nature of comedy it wasn’t very, for me), dramatic (which it mostly wasn’t), enjoyable (which it was – just) and memorable (which it was – but probably for the wrong reasons).

There is an optional commentary on the DVD by director Jez Butterworth and actor Ben Chaplin and it gives an interesting insight into how the film came about. For example the use of non-Russian speaking actors so as not to intimidate Nicole Kidman and indeed all three “Russians” gave good performances. But Butterworth and Chaplin also talk about how long the film took to make and the use of different locations and even using different continents to shoot the same location and often many months apart. This is not unusual in making a film, but I do wonder if in this case, that the time it took to make the film is what contributed to the “something that is missing” in Birthday Girl for me.

As well as the main feature the DVD comes with:

Commentary featuring Director Jez Butterworth and Ben Chaplin
Cast and Crew Interviews
Trailer
Music Video “Something Stupid” featuring Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman
Behind The Scenes
Also Available

As other reviewers have stated, Birthday Girl is a film that will not be to everyone’s taste and although I wouldn’t discourage anyone from watching it I couldn’t recommend it either.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 16 July 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
This film tells enjoyable, reasonably engaging story that is laced with wit and dark undertones, but it really doesn't amount to anything more challenging than that.
The actors play their mellow roles perfectly capably, and manage to keep the audience fairly interested but once again there's really nothing outstanding about them.
A pleasant watch for a lazy evening, but I can't really reccomend buying the film unless you really want to see the all-too-breif cameos from the league of gentlemen.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kidman shines in this refreshingly different, fantastic film, 23 April 2005
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Birthday Girl is an extraordinary film - and yet more proof that Nicole Kidman is the greatest actress of our generation (at least until Jodie Foster makes a comeback). It's hard to characterize this particular film, though - I wouldn't call it a dark comedy, as many do, because it is just far too dramatic, and it's hard to call it a love story just because that love story is such a strange one. However you categorize it, though, it is fantastic. It's not a film that will hit everyone's buttons, so I can understand some of the average reviews, but those who love Birthday Girl will absolutely adore it. Of course, some will make light of the fact that you have Nicole Kidman and two French actors playing Russians in a movie filmed in Australia and set in England. That does sound rather kooky, but everyone in this film, no matter where they are from or who they are playing, is amazing.
I'm not going to say all that much about the plot because Birthday Girl is driven by some pretty serious turning points and surprises - and I'm not going to spoil a single thing if I can help it. You basically start out with a young English fellow named John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin); he's a prisoner of his own boring life, and he decides to make the bold move of importing a mail order bride from Russia. When Nadia (Nicole Kidman) arrives, she's not exactly what he expected - there is, for instance, the rather bothersome fact that she does not speak a word of English (so much for truth in advertising). She is also, let us say, a little less than Kidman's normally glowing self early on. John makes a go of it, but he eventually decides to send Nadia back home. Nadia, however, has other plans, and I must say she makes quite a convincing case for keeping her around the house. She's quite amenable to John's somewhat extravagant, ahem, needs. Maybe things will work out after all, John thinks - and then two friends of Nadia's arrive for a visit. John's life will never be the same - not by a long shot. I have to question a few of John's actions later on, but the whole thing definitely makes for some great suspense and some crazy twists and turns.
As for the DVD, it comes without a commentary, unfortunately, but it does feature a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film along with a music video featuring Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman.
Birthday Girl isn't really a film for those who like action and more action, or those who want to see everything laid out in a completely straightforward manner. This film is really about people and emotions and the uncanny ability for love to blossom in even the harshest of conditions. Even if you don't like the story, you can't help but be impressed by the performances, especially that of Kidman, who is more than convincing as a Russian. There is no role this amazing actress cannot play perfectly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday Girl, 24 Dec 2013
By 
Mr. S. M. Mardy "Steve" (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
This film is very good value, satirical comedy entertanment and was well worth it. I recommend it to you all
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5.0 out of 5 stars Its a DVD, 1 July 2013
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This review is from: Birthday Girl [DVD] (DVD)
Its an old one but fun to watch from time to time. Not to everyones taste but there you go.
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Birthday Girl [DVD]
Birthday Girl [DVD] by Jez Butterworth (DVD - 2008)
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