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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Birthday Girl: Press views
The film was made before Moulin Rouge and The Others
Nicole Kidman plays a Russian mail order bride
Nicole Kidman and Ben Chaplin star in Birthday Girl, a comedy thriller directed by Jez Butterworth. John (Chaplin) buys a Russian mail-order bride, Nadia, (Kidman) over the internet but the real trouble starts when Nadia's "cousins" turn up. Before long John is turning to crime to worm his way out of blackmail. The British press review the film.


The Guardian

It's a picture with its fair share of plot implausibilities and it looks weirdly stagey, with an Australian and two Frenchmen impersonating Russians. But it's a lively, watchable comedy nonetheless.


The Independent

One minute we're being invited to sneer at John's parochialism - his silly little car, his docile attitude at work - the next to cheer on his old-fashioned English decency. You want stereotypes? Well, take your pick. Alternative titles for the film could be "Mr Bean Makes a Booboo" and "Russian Men Sure Are Crazy".


The Daily Telegraph

How many synonyms for "abysmal" does the dictionary contain? Surely not enough to convey the vile, lazy mess that is Jez Butterworth's new movie. Ben Chaplin is a nerdy bank clerk from St Albans who orders a Russian mail-order bride (Nicole Kidman), only to find that she speaks no English and has two murderous "cousins" who turn his humdrum life on its head. The casting is absurd, the acting mechanical, the politics shameful.


The Times

"Communication" is the key word in Jez Butterworth's latest film, Birthday Girl, and the failure of this odd couple to "commune" is the source of some exceptional comic pleasure. The nuts and bolts might seem obvious: a dull parochial single male who sounds like Alan Partridge and a desperate foreign woman who needs a passport. What's nice, and, yes, unusual, about Butterworth's film is how awkward it all is: intimate and improvised. This is Kidman when she first left Tom Cruise.


London Evening Standard

The "surprise" twist can be spied coming way down the road, but I mustn't give it away. It turns a joy-through-kinkiness relationship that the young Polanski would have liked exploring, into a conventionally zany farce like Scorsese's After Hours, where Griffin Dunne was the timid chap lost downtown at the mercy of coercive figures.


The Observer

Cassel, Kassovitz and Kidman are beautifully graceful against the backdrop of signs to Tring and Newbury. The bit-parts are played by members of the League of Gentlemen, Smack the Pony and the Armstrong and Miller Show, who contribute little thumbnails of Britishness, nudging Chaplin to break out of his shell. "Take the ball and run with it, John," one of them tells him in middle-management pep-speak. Watching him do it makes entertaining and unusual viewing.

See also:

28 Jun 02 | Entertainment
01 Jul 02 | Entertainment
01 Feb 02 | Entertainment
18 Jan 02 | Oscars 2002
31 Oct 01 | Entertainment
14 Apr 02 | Entertainment
24 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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