Birthday Girl (2002)
Main cast: Nicole Kidman (Nadia/Sofia), Ben Chaplin (John), Vincent Cassel (Alexei), and Mathieu Kassovitz (Yuri)
Director: Jez Butterworth


When a director cannot fully utilize Nicole Kidman's statuesque and icy beauty, instead dowding her up to look too uncannily like Meg Ryan gone Goth (think Addicted To Love), he must be one inept gonzo. Indeed, Birthday Girl is one boring, tepid noir-wannabe that shies away from being outright gritty and hence, fun. Instead, it's like Crime for Kiddies 101.

And it doesn't help than Ben Chaplin plays his role like a sleepwalking git. He plays John, a boring, whitebread guy who lives an antiseptic existence. His only joy is his stash of bondage porn. One day, he sort of applies for a mail-order Russian bride, and he gets Nadia. Nadia and he are soon getting down on the bondage stuff, although there's really nothing graphic here except for the butt of Nicole Kidman's body double. What little there is, though, is basically John looking stoned and Nadia bored. Nice life, I'm sure.

Then come Nadia's cousin and his friend. Yuri and Alexei are two overactive lunatics, and they are a jarring and often painful contrast to John's permanently stoned condition. Big surprise, it soon turns out that Nadia, Alexei, and Yuri are not who they seem!

Whatever. John is so stoned and self-absorbed, barely reacting to the situations around him all the time, it's so hard to even care about this movie. When he has to rob a bank, he does it with a look that seems to suggest that Ben Chaplin'd rather sit on a broomstick than be in this movie. Hey, Chaplin, why don't you go sit on a broomstick then? Twit.

Nicole Kidman plays a credible Russian femme fatale, but I have no idea what her Nadia sees in permanently comatose John. In the end, John's rigor mortis is infectious. I'm too bored out of my wits to care.

Ben Chaplin looks kinda cute in Y-Fronts though.

Rating: 52


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