A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
In BIRTHDAY GIRL, shy bank teller John (Ben Chaplin) orders his Russian bride from an internet site. The good news is Nadia (Nicole Kidman) is beautiful. The bad news is that she does not speak English, she smokes, and on the way home from the airport she has to throw up. John has second thoughts, but can't get anyone from the agency on the phone. Meanwhile, Nadia efficiently discovers his stash of porn and even more efficiently makes herself sexually indispensible. Nadia stays at home and knits, and John goes off to the bank with a spring in his step and the ring she brought him on his finger. But Nadia's birthday celebration is interrupted by the arrival of her cousin and his friend. At this point, things start to go wrong, including betrayals, a bank robbery, a lot of smacking around and threats with guns.
Is it any good?
Birthday Girl is a very uneven thriller-romance brightened by dark comedy and another magnetic performance by Nicole Kidman as the 21st century equivalent to a mail order bride. Unfortunately, the film's resolution is as uneven as the movie's tone.
There are some signs of real talent here in John's generic performance evaluation and the bank's "trust" exercises, Nadia's monologue about her binoculars and her bright red knitting. The movie's director, screenwriters, and producer (three brothers) clearly intended to make a movie that transcends genre, but it does not really work. It just feels unsettlingly muddled.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: February 1, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: August 13, 2002
- Cast: Ben Chaplin, Mathieu Kassovitz, Nicole Kidman
- Director: Jez Butterworth
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual situations. language, and violence
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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