Prepare for a birthday treat

The Beatles were wrong: you can buy love, if you’re willing to pay the price. Birthday Girl is the tale of mild-mannered bank clerk John (Ben Chaplin) who is too shy to meet the woman of his dreams.

The Beatles were wrong: you can buy love, if you’re willing to pay the price. Birthday Girl is the tale of mild-mannered bank clerk John (Ben Chaplin) who is too shy to meet the woman of his dreams.

Every night, he comes home to an empty house, cooks an unappetising meal for one, and lives vicariously through the internet. Desperate for a female companion, John resorts to buying a mail order bride from Russia.

Gorgeous and statuesque Nadia (Nicole Kidman) arrives soon after and she seems perfect: attentive, loving and eager to please John however she can. The language barrier — she speaks very little English — is slightly problematic, but the couple manage to communicate in actions rather than words.

Any illusion of a fairy tale marriage is well and truly shattered by the arrival of Russian heavies, Alexei (Vincent Cassel) and Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz). All is not what it appears, and John soon finds himself being blackmailed — not to mention physically threatened — into robbing his own bank.

He hesitantly embarks on a perilous adventure to outwit Alexei and Yuri. The prize might just be everlasting love with Nadia; the penalty could be his life.

This is a sweet and offbeat romantic comedy, illuminated by an endearingly feisty performance from Kidman.

In a remarkably unselfconscious turn: she wears little make-up, is shabbily dressed, and her sex scenes with Chaplin are awkward and sweaty. Chaplin is, sadly, a tad wooden — it’s no wonder his hapless hero can’t find any female company.

With all of its twists and delightful offbeat humour, Birthday Girl is a fun film.

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