Birthday Girl Reviews
He settles on Nadia (Nicole Kidman), whose looks cloud his judgement - upon her arrival, it's discovered that she doesn't speak a word of English. But John learns to love her (learn, or trade disappointment for settlement?), and it's an accomplishment, considering they can't even carry on a conversation.
On her birthday, Nadia and John are greeted by a pair of men (Vincent Cassel and Mathieu Kassovitz) who claim to be Nadia's cousins, but after it turns out that something much shadier is on the horizon, John is forced to question whether or not he is willing to look past Nadia's faults and continue their romance.
Movies contain many life lessons, and a well-known one is that it isn't a great idea to marry a person you've never met. In Franšois Truffaut's "Mississippi Mermaid", Jean-Paul Belmondo exchanged rings with Catherine Deneuve, and, despite her ethereal beauty, she turned out to be mysterious in extremely dangerous ways, to say the least.
The difference between "Mississippi Mermaid" and "Birthday Girl" is that the former had much more to do with plot, and Belmondo and Deneuve's chemistry was poker hot.
"Birthday Girl" is thoroughly unconvincing when it comes to the relationship between John and Nadia. It's a film that can't decide if it wants to be a romantic comedy or a caper - although calling it uneven wouldn't be completely true - and the writing isn't strong enough to entirely convince us of the situation.
In just 30 minutes, we are supposed to believe that John and Nadia have built a strong enough relationship to make the criminal twist more of a shock; later on, we're forced to accept that, despite all the lies and deception, a romance should bloom.
Butterworth does all he can to convince us that opposites actually might attract, but the story is much too flimsy to convince us of anything. Although the writing is subpar, the leads are not. Even when there isn't a screenplay to support them entirely, they have enough charisma to evoke something. Kidman's Russian accent is perfectly intact, and Chaplin seems born to forever play the na´ve guy in the middle of an awful situation.
If "Birthday Girl" hadn't come out when Kidman was all over the map with "The Others", "Moulin Rouge!", and "The Hours", it may have been considered above average. But it sits within a crevasse in a glacier of masterpieces, and it simply isn't good enough to escape.
also stars Vincent Cassel, Mathieu Kassovitz, Kate Evans, Rebecca Clarke, Sue Maund, Alan Stocks and Ben Miller.
directed by Jez Butterworth.