A Russian vodka mix of one-part comedy, one-part dramaturgy. Explosive upon impact, the introductory half is a quirky non-romance between Ben Chaplin, a dull 9-to-5 banker, who sends away for a mail-order bride.What appears to be a prize at first, Nicole Kidman, rapidly transgresses to the next pathetic scenario, when it turns out she doesn’t speak any English. Unable to return to sender, routines are made until a Russian friend of hers, and another acquaintance, disrupt the equilibrium. The track-hopping occurs once Chaplin is forced to rob his own bank when the visitors go psycho and “abduct” the household occupants. The gimmick, the rouse, is that the three Russians are a collaborative team who select a victim, plant a seed (Kidman), let it grow, and then seemingly snatch it up by the roots. The movie is almost half-amusing if it were not so self-promotingly wacky and overly complicated. Birthday Girl is slick entertainment made only of the mechanics that cause the cogs to twist; otherwise, the movie is an empty display case of deception. Kidman is good, or at least sounds good in the role, exclusively speaking (phonetic) Russian for the first half, and doing a convincing job of it. No denying it, she can do sweet and sour very well.
Directed by Jez Butterworth. With Mathieu Kassovitz and Vincent Cassel.[See it if you must.]