Nadia: a Russian Story of Love and Passion
David 25 August The critics didn't like this film. It bombed in the States and as a result received only a limited showing in Britain. Which was a great shame, because it represents British rather than American humour and should have been shown in Britain first. Nicole Kidman looks stunning and is a totally convincing Russian. Ben Chaplin is the Dustin Hoffman character from 'The Graduate', and 'Birthday Girl' has at least 4 scenes which remind the viewer of that s classic despite being a totally different story!
Sure it changes tack a number of times from comedy to black comedy to thriller to adventure - but it's memorable, moving and a weclome breath of fresh air compared to the average mega-budget blockbuster. See it with an open mind! MisterWhiplash 1 February Birthday Girl has a not too bad premise- good old English chum decides out of lonliness and maybe something else to order a mail order bride from Russia. It turns out, his order is not quite what he wanted, but she Nicole Kidman seems like a nice enough wife, until not what was planned happens in a series of events getting the english chum and his russian bride on the run.
Sometimes amusing, but it is not good enough as a movie since it can never really get into its characters and seems to float for part of the 2nd act and 3rd act. Kidman is still sexy though. This is a clever, funny, sexy movie that starts as a romantic comedy and then becomes an edgy thriller. When he orders a Russian mail order bride over the Internet, she duly self-delivers herself to the airport in the form of Nadia Nicole Kidman. One of his main requirements in the arrangement was, "Someone you can really talk to. I think communication is key". But as John drives her home, he realises that Nadia can't speak English - or seems not to.
Although John at first desperately tries to contact the aptly named 'From Russia with Love' marriage agency to cancel the deal, the language barrier becomes far less important when he discovers that Nadia is sexually adventurous and encourages him to indulge his every fantasy with her. Everything seems to be going perfectly for John until Nadia's Russian cousin, Yuri Mathieu Kassovitz , and his friend Alexei Vincent Cassel turn up and overwhelm his life.
Effusively friendly at first, they soon prove disturbingly dangerous, and John realises that all is not as it seems. The plot heads into unpredictable territory and although the ending is pretty crazy it is also satisfying in light of all the revelations that take place along the way. The film has a lightness of touch, but also a dark side. If I could compare it with any other film it might be Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild" - the sexually aggressive girl, the nerdy guy, the slowly blossoming relationship and the intrusion of a psychotic and dangerous boyfriend.
The basic ingredients work in both movies. Ben Chaplin hits just the right note as the colourless bank clerk who actually has a repressed wild side, he just needs the right person to unlock it and set it loose. His performance is both funny and engaging. Pretty, sexy, and slim almost to the point of fragility, Nicole Kidman's Nadia looks vulnerable, but as we discover as the story unfolds, looks are deceiving. This is a captivating performance; she has little dialogue - and half of that is in Russian.
The amazing Vincent Cassel plays Alexei. No one can play dangerous like this guy. I didn't realise that he made "Birthday Girl" before "Irreversible". His role here was a good warm up, he exudes unpredictability - look at that martial arts kick he does when he is jogging with John. It is an indication of John's growth of character when he actually takes him on. A lot of reviewers regard this as a flawed work, but I'm not so sure I can see the flaws.
I enjoyed it from start to finish - I couldn't see how it was actually going to end, but it felt about right when it did. A sexy ride with Nicole Kidman who brings erotic heat to her character. It deals with a shy thirty something bank clerk named John Ben Chaplin who subsequently didn't have a successful career from St Albans , he has his small-town life exploded by the arrival of his Russian mail-order bride named Nadia Nicole Kidman who shows her high range , she doesn't speak English , but the two begin to talk the international language anyway.
Nadia brings some color into his drab , dull life , as John hardly has time to wallow in his newfound bliss when he's besieged by problems. Before they share a future, they have to survive her past , somebody in for a big surprise. Then the bank clerk is beset by Russian strangers though no actor in the movie actually speaks Russian, nor does the director claiming to be Nadia's relatives Mattieu Kassovitz , Vincent Kassel.
The timid clerk is drawn into a cobweb of deceit , fraud and robbing. Good performances specially by Nicole Kidman as mysterious and sexy online mail-order bride who reportedly learned Russian language for the movie , as she went to the Russian Embassy in Australia for help in speaking Russian , she didn't work with any other coach on the set except the woman from the embassy. Decent film but with no surprises , the story is predictable , being developed in right way.
Adequate and thrilling musical score by Stephen Warbeck. Colorful and atmospheric cinematography by Oliver Stapleton. The motion picture was professionally directed by Jez Butterworth , though without originality. His feature film directorial hip debut was Mojo who also wrote and starred Ian Hart, Ewen Bremner, Aidan Gillen and Harold Pinter and was officially selected for the Venice Film Festival , being an outstanding critical and public success.
Butterworth's other film writing credits include Marc Munden's Christmas and David Giles' The Night of the Golden Brain, both of which he co-wrote with his brother Tom , besides he wrote the hit smashes titled 'The last legion' and 'Fair game'. Was this a comedy, thriller, romance or what? This film would have played better as a romantic comedy. Instead it was neither one thing nor another. All the performances were good, but somehow it missed the mark. More like a satire of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. The plot was too silly for a thriller, the characters were caricatures and the uptight bank clerk would have gone to the police immediately they demanded cash.
As a comedy, they could have got away with a preposterous plot and the equally preposterous ending, but as a thriller, it simply fell flat. Nicole Kidman can successfully play the sort of girl who could be a real head turner if she didn't dress like trash, combed her hair, got washed, and stopped lighting one cigarette from another. The scenes of her puffing away on a cigarette casually hanging from the side of her mouth were hilarious. She probably substituted flea market perfume for deodorant. The two Russian accomplices were also good, and Ben Chaplin was suitably uptight as the "victim".
At first I thought he was too handsome to get a mail order bride, but to have made him a geek would have been too predictable. There are many handsome and successful men who just seem to strike out with the ladies. Overall, I would rate this OK if you have absolutely nothing better to do. Mild-mannered bachelor bank teller near London advertises for a Russian wife on the internet, and is disappointed when the young lady who shows up at the airport doesn't speak any English she's a willing sport in bed, however ; when two of her Russian buddies show up at his house, the man realizes he's been set up to rob his own bank, yet still feels a connection to this strange, sexy woman.
Peculiar, darkly comic series of confusions, double crosses, bedroom fetishes and ants! It was obviously a labor of love for the group, and they could not have found better leads than Nicole Kidman and handsome Ben Chaplin, both excellent in their roles.
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Still, the script disappoints--it's all over the map--and by the third act we've lost something intrinsic in the characters. Chaplin who amusingly resembles both Joaquin Phoenix and Steve Carrell is never humiliated on-screen he's treated badly but always rebounds and looks after himself ; still, the man's anger is released in odd ways too much slapping and we never understand his attachment to Kidman's Russian vixen.
Is this an emotional connection or is it purely physical? Well-made movie has some fine, prickly moments mostly in the first hour. It loses itself in its circular twists, swallowing its tail in the bargain, however the film is still a decent attempt at something different. This film is definitely an odd love story. What starts outlooking like a regular episode of the popular British TV series"Heartbeat" soon turns into a gritty gangster getaway action flick.
Nothing truly memorable happens in this simple small film and thus ends-up as fairly decent weekend entertainment.
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A good one to watch, and if you like the hero john are lonely thirty something you may find something to identify with in his character. This is a comedy based on national stereotypes, no doubt. If you leave away pretending you know or you care what Communism was about and how real Russians or Brits are, if you accept and are not hurt by the conventions, you can have fun with this film. Nicole Kidman is at her best, sexy, moving and funny. Ben Chaplin succeeds to avoid being completely out-shadowed by Nicole, and the rest of the cast does good work as well.
The final is moving, and logical - movie logics, of course. Worth watching, if you accept the rules of the game. I can't quite decide which is worse - the script or the directing. We're slowly introduced to John Chaplin , a mild mannered the mildest EVER bank clerk looking for a mail order bride from a russian website. It's a slow, dull start to the movie that I was hoping was just setting the scene for some interesting viewing. However, Butterworth decided to maintain this tempo for the entire movie. Low tempo can be great if you have the material and sufficiently powerful acting Lost In Translation for example , this is turgid, the actors are cardboard at best.
At times we are introduced to plot points John's ex for example that disappear without trace quicker than they appeared.
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I really feel I'm wasting my breath reviewing this terrible movie - it doesn't deserve analysis. John Chaplin is a guy whose life is plain and dull in his honest opinion; so bad in fact that he orders a girl over the internet to come and live with him; this premise is about as exciting as John's life is or was and for the record; doesn't make sense: Unfortunately, Birthday Girl falls short of both films which were rather enjoyable in the end because of its lack of confidence. Derailed gets a little nasty once Vincent Cassel who's also in this shows up and that propels twists, turns and a good character study of Clive Owen's Charles Schine and what to do but Birthday Girl just seems to lack punch, it lacks violence and it lacks that hard-boiled, noir undertone, revenge feel that I really wish it had.
Birthday Girl has problems not only with its content and which way it's going to go but with its characters and their logic as well as the film's overall logic. Things turn a little ugly once Alexei Cassel and Yuri Kassovitz turn up and yet when John is suspicious, the police don't even seem to enter the equation over whether or not he should consult them likewise; when he is pressured into stealing money it is the fear of them doing something outrageous to Nadia that stops him from alerting the authorities and only because since her arrival, she's been supplying him with his sadomasochistic desires that I can only guess was the reason for getting her because he was on the verge of giving her up what with all the phone calls back to the website.
This spawns two things: First, why didn't HE instigate the sadomasochism instead of leaving her to find out and secondly, did he really think they would harm their own cousin out of jealousy of his 'perfect life' with 'perfect house' and car? If they wanted him to steal money, they would've threatened him or perhaps HIS cousins. Like I said; instead of developing into a revenge film, it flags and bothers about with further character development between John and Nadia, who by this time you rather dislike, before giving him lungs of steel in order to chase down a taxi just when he needs to.
Birthday Girl doesn't have any stand out things about it but just potters along at a pace that is good but nothing great. I didn't feel anything for John except sorrow for him but I was doing that after five minutes.
This could've been a great character study about how far one man will go like Derailed did to beat the odds but it ended up as a damp, nothing drama about a bunch of people who have nothing better to do. Uneven and unconvincing but does enough to keep you watching bob the moo 17 August John is a shy and lonely bank teller in St Albans who just wants to meet a nice woman. Eventually he turns to a website where he can get Russian brides and he orders one. When he collects Nadia from the airport he finds that she doesn't speak a word of English and he tries to get her "returned".
Getting no reply from the telephone number he has, Nadia gradually changes John's mind through sex. Despite the total lack of language, the two seem to be getting on well and John is happy with his new life but, on Nadia's birthday, two of her friends arrive totally unannounced and things take a change for the worse. The mix of romance and comedy pretty much never works and it does take away from what should have been a more effective dramatic plot. The logic in the story pretty much works; perhaps not in real world terms but on its own.
The cast are better than the material deserves and they are a big part of making it work. Kidman should be applauded for her film roles, certainly they are unusual for such a big star to do as many smaller things as she does. Here she spends most of the film doing an accent but her presence is good regardless and it means we are still interested in her whenever she starts speaking.
Chaplin is better because he is grounded in the real world sort of and his performance means he more than holds his own opposite the starry leading lady. I generally don't like Cassel but here he was OK and his worked well with Kassovitz to delivered an improved second half where the drama came to the fore.
Overall this has enough going on to keep you watching but it doesn't do anything that well, producing an uneven affair that only gets a bit better in the second half where the focus appears to settle down. It is never illogical to a detrimental point but it is unconvincing at points. File under D for distracting, because it is watchable as long as you don't expect too much from it. Birthday Girl doesn't know what it wants to be - is it a comedy,, is it a drama What could have been a very funny or touching film ends up in no-man's land.
The premise is original enough to have warranted a script full of interesting scenarios but hardly delivers any and ends up petering out. This is a real shame if you look at the cast - it's very solid all the way through but they don't get the chance to shine. Some will hate it, some will love it, and most will find it unsatisfying and marginally palatable.
No, Kidman is not sexalicious in spite of what the advertising suggests. Instead, "B-Day Girl" squeaks by with a meager make-it-up-as-you-go plot, poor chemistry between Kidman and Chaplin, and wouldn't fit any genre if it was hammered in. A silly mix of dry comedy and drama which doesn't end as much as it quits. Mediocre stuff best saved for broadcast. A film that has no idea what it wants to be. Is it a black comedy? No, comedies are supposed to be funny. Is it a sex comedy?
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No, since it's not sexy either. Is it a black romance? No, romances are supposed to be romantic.
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