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Birthday Girl (2001, Ben Chaplin, Nicole Kidman)Birthday Girl (2001, Ben Chaplin, Nicole Kidman)

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Birthday Girl (2001, Ben Chaplin, Nicole Kidman)

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Sick of his dreary existence, St. Albans bank clerk John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin) visits a Russian website offering brides for sale and chooses Nadia (Nicole Kidman), who is promptly sent over for approval. Discovering she cannot speak English, John tries to arrange her return, but she displays a gift for intimacy which changes his mind.

When two men – her cousin Yuri and his friend Alexei (Mathieu Kassovitz and Vincent Cassel) – arrive for her birthday, John refuses to entertain them. They respond by pulling a gun and ordering him to rob the bank on their behalf. En route to the robbery, Buckingham has an epiphany: he’s merely the latest sucker in a scam which has fooled victims across Europe, and now its time to fight back…

Human trafficking isn’t the most obvious starting point for comedy, but the Butterworth brothers (director Jez, co-writer Tom, and producer Stephen) have crafted a likeable and sophisticated film combining farce with drama. As with the director’s previous film, Mojo , there’s a reliance on occasional stereotypes to fill in the blanks and they come close to eclipsing the central theme: the lack of communication in modern relationships. But the cast are strong enough to win through, with Kidman’s vulnerable yet divisive Nadia a very credible mail order missus, while Kassovitz edges Cassel out to win the award for most menacing ex-commie.

production details
UK / 93 minutes / 2001

Director:Jez Butterworth
Writers:Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth,

cast
Ben Chaplin as John
Vincent Cassel as Alexei
Stephen Mangan as Bank Manager
Mark Gatiss as Porter
Jonathan Aris as D.I. O’Fetiger
Ben Miller as Concierge
Steve Pemberton as Duty sergeant
Nicole Kidman as Sophie alias Nadia
Alexander Armstrong as Robert Mosley
Mathieu Kassovitz as Yuri
Kate Lynn Evans as Clare
Sally Phillips as Karen
Jo McInnes as Waitress
Reece Shearsmith as Porter
Alan Stocks as Passport Official
Rebecca Clarke as Bank Colleague
Raj Ghatak as Bank Colleague
Jack Pierce as Bank Colleague
David Mark as Bank Colleague
J.J. Toba as Policeman

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