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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Birthday Girl [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 6 March 2003
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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on 4 June 2017
It's ok! It's one of those that I kept thinking I am a bit fed up of it but also wanted to see what happens in the end (which is good by the way)
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on 20 July 2017
Not really my cup of tea
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 March 2016
This is an interesting film, and nice to see the beautiful Nicole Kidman in a low-budget British film.

Plot: a single man orders a bride-to-be ('mail order') from Russia. She arrives, not speaking any English. He starts to fall in love with her, but it turns out that she's part of a criminal gang (who turn up at the blokes house, seeking to rob a bank). Nonetheless, she ends up falling for the guy who 'mail ordered' her ... It's a weird tale of love.

It put me off ordering a bride from Russia!

Good fun for 1hr 30mins. But I doubt I'll be re-visiting this film again in the near future.
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on 18 July 2014
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
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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on 16 July 2005
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 January 2007
This film is a lot of fun. John (Ben Chaplin) sends for a mail order bride, a Russian, Nadia (Nicole Kidman who, trouper as she is, speaks Russian frequently, rapidly and totally convincingly). She is stunning in a kind of kooky-kinky way and all seems well, if a little unexpected, until two Russian heavies turn up ; then it turns decidedly nasty for poor John. There are plot twists and turns after that and it all ends happily. It's frequently amusing, the story holds you pretty well, and above all Kidman is really watchable, a most whole-hearted, over-the-top peformance which is just right for this film. Recommended.
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on 16 March 2017
Run of the mill comedy but few laugh out loud moments.
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on 4 November 2003
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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on 10 April 2003
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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