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One thing: the title might sound corny but all the same, this is a great
movie. It is a mix of Russian and English. The cast is great, especially
Nicole Kidman and the plot is well suited. I enjoyed watching it. One thing
that makes this movie stand out is its peculiar Russian atmosphere which
other films might not adapt. this is a film worht watching.
Bank teller (Chaplin) orders a seductive Russian mail order bride (Kidman)
through the internet, and although she only speaks Russian, he decides he
wants her to stay. Two men out of nowhere show up and the whole thing turns
into one big con, with one man turning out to be her boyfriend (Cassel) and
the other his business partner (Kassovitz).
Mean-spirited and sloppily executed film is neither a comedy, drama, or thriller; Why this guy would rob a bank (and his job) of thousands is a little bit stupid since there was obviously more logical (and ethical) means to deal with that situation. Of interest only to see Nicole Kidman play someone with another language, which I thought was done well.
The main character, John, is a very shy man who has been doing his boring
job at a local bank for ten years. Because he's not very good at meeting
women, he's ordered a Russian mail-order bride. When she arrives it soon
becomes clear that she (Nadia/Sophia - Nicole Kidman)doesn't speak
Her lack of communication is soon forgotten when John discovers that she is dynamite in the bedroom. She wants to do everything, all the time. Slowly, John falls head over heels for this woman.
But then, one day, it's Nadia's birthday, and she has invited 2 Russian friends to celebrate. From that moment on, things start to change for John, and he'll soon feel like he's in hell...
Really not a bad movie, the plot idea is quite nice. The most prominent question for me still is - why weren´t actual Russians cast for at least the two male parts? I can understand the decision for the main part - the movie needs a name in the credits and Nicole Kidman is a very good marketing product, but there are really very good Russian actors out there, so you wouldn´t have to cast two French guys, who are very good actors (I like them both very much), but struggle to speak Russian. So does she, but as mentioned, you need a name :)
John, (Ben Chaplin) is a lonely bank teller who desperately seeks for love through the Internet. The outcome was an extremely beautiful and sexy Nadia, (Nicole Kidman) who cannot communicate verbally but is an excellent sexual and seductive communicator. Birthday Girl, shows how loneliness can cause one to do desperate actions for love. From being a loyal and doubting John, he becomes a "brave" John who risks his job for Nadia. Absolutely, John is pleasantly surprised by Nadia's sexual expertise.
A plot twist appears with the two cousins. Poor John is confused, suspicious and on the other hand sexually hungry or probably in-love with Nadia.
Do vulnerable men need women to "wake-up"? Danzel Washington in Antwone Fisher, used the beautiful Cheryl (Joy Bryant) to assist the lonely and once abused Antwone (Derek Luke) to appreciate life and feel loved. Jez Butterworth seems to use the same technique but in a suspension sense.
Johns, vulnerability is shown on several occasions when the director uses high angle shots to focus on him. The first high angle was at the beginning of the movie when he is driving to the airport on the highway to go and pick up Nadia. The director also uses high angle when he focuses on Johns house on the first night Nadia was brought to his home. This motif reduces the importance of a subject, which in turn can suggest harmless and insignificance of a person.
Love comes in different and strangest ways - even making the most vulnerable individuals victims.
This is a strange one. Ben Chaplin (no relation to the legendary comedian) is a shy Englishman who hooks up with a Russian mail order bride (Nicole Kidman). The movie seems to be a quirky romantic comedy until it suddenly morphs into a crime drama, a chase movie and extremely dark farce. It's a bit of a mess, but is saved by Chaplin's sad sack portrayal of the love sick John, and French actors Vincent Cassel and Mathieu Kassovitz as the Russian bad guys. Nicole Kidman continues to impress, and even though she doesn't speak a word of English for the first hour of Birthday Girl her expressive face says it all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If I rate a movie from 8 to 10 stars, it means I would go out of my way to
see it again. If it is from 5 to 7 stars, I would be willing to see it
again if I happen upon it and nothing better was on.
And since I have registered with IMDB, I now watch a movie thinking in my mind how I would rate it. I originally was thinking of rating "Birthday Girl" with 8 stars but something was nagging in my mind. The language barrier plays an important factor in "Birthday Girl". How the barrier was handling both in the script and the casting changed my rating to 7 stars. Regrettably, I resort to
to explain my reasoning.
John is a lonely banker who orders a Russian mail bride played by Nicole Kidman. To John's great dismay, Sophia speaks no English. Of course we all know Ms. Kidman gained fame in Australia. Her Russian sounds fluent to this non-speaker but I recognize her as a speaker of English. When circumstances evolve later in the film where she utters some English, John is amazed. I don't know why, both the casting and the circumstances pointed to her knowing English.
The story gets set in motion when two male friends of Sophia's crash into John's home on Sophia's birthday. One (Vincent Cassel) speaks no English, while the other (Mathieu Kassovitz) speaks it haltingly. I recognized both actors. I couldn't quite place them but I knew they weren't Russian. Again their Russian seemed good and Mnsr. Kassovitz' accent was convincing (so was his American accent in "The Fifth Element"). It was when I checked out IMDB that I discovered they were French.
I truly like the movie as a drama but having no Russian actors kind of disappoints me. At least Ben Chaplin as John acts and is truly English. So his character's decision at the end of the movie was more daunting than happy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, if you do, then you will like this movie. Nicole Kidman and 2 others
play Russians, and there are a lot of subtitles. Nicole is OK, but she is
not believable as being Russian because she is so famous and everyone knows
she is from Australia. The plot is predictable. Once you know this English
guy gets a mail order bride, you know she has some secrets, and everything
is not as it appears to be.
(SPOILERS): What I really didn't like was the whole bad girl falls for her mark story. I mean, why is it we are supposed to believe this con artist, Nadia, will fall in love with this mark, when she has ripped so many other men off. And even after she has helped ruin his life, John still won't turn her into the police. I mean, he was just stupid for not turning her in, so after that, who cares if he gets away or not. The audience has lost all sympathy for John.
FINAL VERDICT: The plot plods along at a slow pace. And it isn't a comedy nor a thriller. I don't recommend it, unless you are a Nicole Kidman fan and just have to see all her movies.
Strange to see Nicole Kidman in this film as it doesn't particularly seem
like her style.
She does well however, and her name I'm sure added a lot of weight to the film, which few may have heard of.
Ben Chaplin stars opposite her, and convinces as a Middle-England bank clerk who is fed up with life alone, and so orders Kidman's Russian bride.
Good to see him progressing to film from his TV work, even though the role takes a while to get going.
Overall, this film is a paradox, as there are some funny parts, but it is mostly serious. And the romantic element is confined also, with sex rather than romance being shown.
Not bad though.
Great acting ; clever dialogue ; nice plot changes ; not liked by the mass market ; AND NICOLE KIDMAN !!!! If you like your movies with a bit of intelligence and your romantic movies with a healthy dose of spice, and your characters with more facets than usual --- you will like this film. Any Nicole Kidman fan will love it,and any fan of interesting films should like it a lot. The critics are as usual -- WRONG !!!
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