06 January 2006

Review: Birthday Girl (2001)

John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin), a lonely and frustrated bachelor, marries a Russian mail-order bride, Nadia (Nicole Kidman). After an initial period of awkwardness (they don't speak each other's language), they settle down to a life of kinky sex. Their marital bliss is upset by the arrival of Nadia's friends, the genial Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and the menacing Alexei (Vincent Cassell).

The premise makes no sense: Why doesn't Nadia speak English? How do Nadia's friends know John's responsibilities in his job? After the interesting start exploring the theme of trust, the second half of the film becomes conveniently plot driven and predictable. As expected, the stars do a fine job in their constrained roles with French actor Vincent Cassell having the strongest presence as the violent yet tender ex-lover.

Stars: 1 out of 5