MOVIE MINUTE’Birthday Girl’
February 21, 2002
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You may just want to take a couple of shots of Smirnoff before watching “Birthday Girl.”
This short British comedy is certainly a disappointment considering its cast: Nicole Kidman, Ben Chaplin, Vincent Cassel and Mathieu Kassovitz.
Chaplin, known for his role in “The Thin Red Line,” plays John Buckingham, a lonely bank teller in a British town looking for love on a Web site called “From Russia With Love.” And he thinks he has found it when he orders his mail-order bride Nadia (Kidman) who is supposed to speak English and be a nonsmoker.
But no. John finds his Internet purchase and bride-to-be throwing up in his car, a chain smoker who doesn’t speak English. He discovers her language barrier when testing her in a brief conversation.
“Are you a giraffe?”
John complains to the marriage agency that he wants to return Nadia, yet he becomes reluctant to do so after Nadia finds his porn and acts out his sadomasochistic fantasies with him.
Kidman, who is known for her leading role in “Moulin Rouge,” is convincing with her Russian accent but only up to a point.
People who are looking for a light comedy may find themselves disturbed in scenes where Nadia is a victim of domestic violence, including being threatened with a kettle of boiling water over her head.
“Birthday Girl” takes the audience on some unexpected turns, like when Nadia’s cousins, Alexei and Yuri, appear but later turn out to be con artists.
The film lacks character development, a good plot, has too many scenes muted and lacks any music to enhance the audience’s feeling of suspense and thrill.
It is at times funny and is surprisingly kinky.
The whole movie teases and toys with the audience so much that they lose interest.
Before it’s over, they’re ready to hit the exit doors.