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Birthday Girl

Before They Share A Future, They Have To Survive Her Past. 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

In Birthday Girl, Nicole Kidman plays Nadia, a Russian mail-order bride who comes to St Albans as the new wife of John Buckingham (Chaplin), a nerdish but likeable guy who soon gets more than he bargained for. John specifically ordered a bride who could speak English and didn’t smoke, and guess what? Not only is Nadia a human chimney, her English leaves a lot to be desired. Actually, it leaves everything to be desired; the only English word she knows seems to be “yes” (although that in itself could be considered a good thing).

After a shaky start, Nadia and John seem to finally be settling into a comfortable life together. She’s learning English from a Russian-English dictionary he bought her, and his sex life has become considerably more enjoyable now Nadia has found (and seems to be working through) his bondage magazine collection. This idyll doesn’t last. On her birthday, two men claiming to be Nadia’s cousins show up. Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and Alexei (Vincent Cassel) immediately become a part of John and Nadia’s life, to John’s obvious concern. Then one day, the plot thickens...

Nicole Kidman is (as ever) beautiful, even while dressed in frumpy Russian frocks and wearing enough eye shadow to boost Max Factor’s share price. Better still, she’s even more slinky and seductive here than in Moulin Rouge. It also helps that she handles the Russian language effortlessly (she was coached by a Russian diplomat).

Birthday Girl is an entertainingly unpredictable blend of comedy, romance, drama and thriller; just the thing to kick off the season!

Xavier Cross

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)