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Birthday Girl
Directed by Jez Butterworth
Produced by Eric Abraham
Steve Butterworth
Diana Phillips
Written by Tom Butterworth
Jez Butterworth
Starring Nicole Kidman
Ben Chaplin
Music by Stephen Warbeck
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) February 1, 2002
Running time 93 min.
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $13,000,000
Gross revenue $16,171,098 (worldwide)

Birthday Girl is a 2001 American-British Film Four-backed film featuring Nicole Kidman as a Russian mail-order bride. It is directed by Jez Butterworth and stars Ben Chaplin and Vincent Cassel.



John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin), a lonely St Albans bank clerk, orders a mail-order bride Nadia (Nicole Kidman) from Russia on the Internet. John is uncomfortable and shy, but Nadia is sexually bold and John can't believe his good luck. Though Nadia cannot speak English and John cannot speak Russian, they soon bond. Later on, a man she introduces as her cousin Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his friend Alexei (Vincent Cassel) turn up to celebrate her birthday. Alexei soon shows that he has a temper. After a violent altercation, Alexei holds Nadia hostage and demands a ransom from John. John has grown to care for Nadia, and is forced to steal from his bank where he has worked for ten years. After the ransom is paid, he realises that he has been the victim of an elaborate con trick. Nadia, Yuri and Alexei are criminals, and Alexei is actually Nadia's boyfriend.

John learns that the trio have carried out the same scam on men from Switzerland and Germany, among others. They take him prisoner, strip him down to his underpants, and tie him to a toilet in a motel. He eventually manages to free himself, and quickly learns that Nadia has been left behind after Alexei discovered she was pregnant. John gets dressed, and subsequently gets into a scrap with Nadia, who later reveals that even "[her] name is not Nadia".

John takes Nadia to turn in to the police - hoping to clear his name as a wanted bank robber. Ultimately, however, he sympathises for her, and decides against it. He leaves her at the airport, where she is kidnapped by Alexei – who now wants to have the baby. John rescues her, tying Alexei to a chair. They make common cause against the two Russian men. Nadia informs John that her real name is Sophia. Disguised as Alexei, John and Sophia leave for Russia.



The film was a generally moderate commercial success, with a budget of $13 million it grossed $16,171,098.[1]

It has a 58% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating a neutral-positive critical reception[2]. Jason Solomon of The Observer praised the casting "Cassel, Kassovitz and Kidman are beautifully graceful against the backdrop of signs to Tring and Newbury." He continued "The comedy here is gentle, formed of linguistic misunderstandings and cultural clashes and Chaplin's constant efforts to be polite are rather charming. Kidman's exoticism, encapsulated by her peasant-chic wardrobe, is fresh air in St Albans."[3] The BBC reviewer gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, praised Chaplin's and Kidman's "infectious performances" and describe it as a "sparky" and "deviant topical comedy which is funny from start to finish."[4] CNN praised Kidman's "astounding range" and applauded the dialogue as "often sharp, scathingly witty, and displays a wry intelligence."[5]

The New York Times described the film as "competent" but decried the plot as too "insubstantial".[6]


  1. ^ Birthday Girl (2002) Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Birthday Girl (2002) Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 4 July 2009
  3. ^ A very British coup The Observer. 30 June 2002
  4. ^ Film review - Birthday Girl BBC. 20 June 2002
  5. ^ Review: 'Birthday Girl' another Kidman gift CNN. 31 January 2002
  6. ^ Birthday Girl (2001) FILM REVIEW; Shy Neat-Freak With Kinky Leanings? Sounds Like the Perfect Victim New York Times. 1 February 2002

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