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"BIRTHDAY GIRL"
(2002) (Ben Chaplin, Nicole Kidman) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Mild Extreme Moderate Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Mild *None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Heavy None Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Comedy: A bank clerk's life is turned upside down when he gets more than he bargained for with his Russian mail order bride.
PLOT:
John Buckingham (BEN CHAPLIN) is a lonely bank clerk in the suburbs of London who's never been able to find the right woman for him. Accordingly, he decides to try his luck with a Russian mail order bride. Unfortunately, when Nadia (NICOLE KIDMAN) arrives at the airport, John realizes there's been a mistake as she smokes and doesn't speak a word of English.

Unsuccessfully attempting to contact the responsible agency, John tries to inform Nadia that things won't work out between them, but when she satisfies his needs regarding sex and particularly his obsession with bondage, he begins to accept her. Soon, and despite their language barrier, the two become something of a couple.

Yet, John's newfound happiness is shattered on Nadia's birthday when her Russian "cousins," Alexei (VINCENT CASSEL) and Yuri (MATHIEU KASSOVITZ), suddenly show up on his doorstep. As they make their way into his home and life, John becomes increasingly uncomfortable with their presence, particularly regarding the way Alexei treats Nadia.

From that point on and as his world is turned upside down by a sudden and rather shocking revelation, John does what he can to keep his wits about him, all while trying to figure out what to do regarding his relationship with Nadia.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of someone in the cast they might, but it appears that older teens would be the most likely among all kids to be interested in it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For sexuality and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BEN CHAPLIN plays a bank clerk who's lonely and into bondage and thus orders a mail order bride (with whom he has sex). He then finds his life turned upside down as she and her friends turn out to be something other than they seem and he's forced to do things (including breaking the law) that he normally would not. He briefly uses some strong profanity.
  • NICOLE KIDMAN plays his Russian mail order bride who smokes and drinks, but turns out to be something other than he expected as she sets him up to be ripped off, despite falling for and having sex with him. She uses some strong profanity.
  • VINCENT CASSEL plays her Russian "cousin" who drops by for a visit and robs John. He's also quite rough and often mean to Nadia. He also drinks.
  • MATHIEU KASSOVITZ plays her other Russian "cousin" who accompanies Alexei and is part of their plan. He drinks and uses some subtitled profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama/comedy. Profanity consists of at least 6 uses of the "f" word, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some sexually related dialogue is present, as are several sexual encounters between a single man and his mail order bride.

    They're never married, but she manually stimulates him (not explicitly seen) before they have sex several times (that includes movement, related sounds and some post nudity in the form of a full view of her bare rear). Some of their sexual encounters involve bondage, and we see by the porno magazines and tapes that she discovers (and that we briefly see) that he's into that sort of activity. Various characters (male and female) are also occasionally seen in just their underwear.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including criminal behavior and one man being rough and mean to his girlfriend), which result in some violent behavior (some hitting, manhandling and one character threatening two others on separate occasions by holding knives to their throats). Some of that material could be unsettling to some viewers.

    A fair amount of drinking and smoking occurs (much of it by a pregnant woman), while a woman is briefly seen/heard vomiting and some men are partially seen urinating. Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • John and Nadia have wine with dinner.
  • John has a beer.
  • Yuri and Alexei show up with a bottle of vodka that they and Nadia then drink (in the form of shots).
  • We see a bottle of liquor by Nadia, Yuri and Alexei in the woods. We then see Alexei drinking some of the vodka.
  • Alexei drinks vodka from a bottle.
  • A person holds a glass of wine in a photo.
  • Alexei drinks a great deal of vodka from a bottle.
  • We see an empty bottle of vodka in Alexei's room.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We hear Nadia vomiting on the side of the road and then see some of that vomit on the ground.
  • We see some bruises on Nadia's wrists from her bondage-related activity with John.
  • We see a man finishing up at a urinal, but don't see anything explicit (or the urine stream).
  • We see a rabbit carcass that's been partially gutted and strung up (but nothing's terribly gory).
  • From a distance, we see Yuri urinating outside, but don't see anything explicit (or the urine stream).
  • Nadia has a bit of a bloody lip.
  • We hear Nadia vomiting into a toilet.
  • Nadia has some bruises on her arm.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • All of those who set up John and make him rob his bank obviously have both types of attitudes, as does he for doing that and not calling the police.
  • John rifles through Nadia's belongings as she showers, and she then does the same when he goes off to work.
  • Alexei gets a bit rough with Nadia as they frolic in a lake, eventually holding her head underwater for too long. Later, he displays more bad attitudes and becomes rough with her.
  • Nadia repeatedly smokes despite being pregnant.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • John hears all sorts of violence and then enters the kitchen to find Alexei going crazy and overturning things. Alexei then throws Yuri to the floor, pushes John and holds a knife to Nadia's throat (she has tape over her mouth and is tied to a chair). He then threatens to pour boiling hot water on her, but doesn't.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Nadia has a lighter shaped like a pistol.
  • Knife: Used by Alexei to threaten Nadia and later John (by holding it to their throats).
  • Automatic Weapons: Carried by police in an airport.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (some in English subtitles): "What the f*ck do you want?" "You split my f*cking lip," "F*ck a duck," "What the hell are you doing?" "Bastard," "Balls" (testicles) and "Knocked up."
  • Nadia wears a midriff-baring top.
  • Yuri makes the common gesture for male oral sex.
  • Happy about their criminal haul, Alexei does some celebratory pelvic thrusting and humps a guitar case.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None that we heard, but a rap song contained some lyrics that couldn't be understood.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 6 "f" words (some in subtitles and 1 used sexually as is the term "shagged"), 3 "s" words, 1 crap, 1 hell, 5 uses of "Oh Jesus" and 1 use of "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • John opens a bedroom door to find Nadia in her bra and panties lying face down and away from him.
  • Nadia comes into John's bedroom wearing a nightgown and slowly approaches him. After she essentially corners him, she then takes his hand and puts it inside her nightgown on her breast (that we don't see). She then manually stimulates him to orgasm while still standing (we don't see the actual act, but do see and hear his surprised and pleasured reaction, and can partially see her arm moving rhymically). She then leaves the room.
  • When John takes off the ring Nadia gave him, she pushes him down onto a bed, opens his shirt and then has sex on top of him. We see a head and shoulders shot of her (that implies movement) and then him (his reaction) as well as hear some sexual sounds (there's no explicit nudity).
  • As Nadia goes through John's belongings, she finds various bondage-based porno tapes, such as "Tied and Tethered," and his porno magazines, all of which show some scantily clad women (some in S&M type outfits). She then watches one of the tapes that shows a woman being tied up, some spanking and the woman's pleasured expressions (but nothing is terribly explicit).
  • Later, Nadia plops down a pile of such magazines on the table, one of which is titled, "Hog Tied Bitches" (that shows a bound woman on her stomach with something in her mouth as a gag and her arms and feet tied behind her).
  • John walks in and finds Nadia suggestively wrapping one of his ties around her wrists. He looks at her and then closes the door.
  • We see John tying Nadia's hands to the bed as she lies nude on her stomach, facing him (thus we see her bare back and the top part of her bare butt). We then see her running knitting needles down his bare chest, and then see a head and shoulders shot of them having sex with her on top as both sit upright (with movement and some sounds). After they're done, she gets up and walks away from the bed and we see a full view of her bare butt.
  • Yuri makes some comment about Alexei smoking meat (as in for consumption) and then tries to make sure John doesn't confuse that for something sexual (as he makes a male oral sex gesture).
  • We see some bruises on Nadia's wrists from her bondage activity with John.
  • As Nadia sits atop Ben (as both sit upright), we see them passionately kiss.
  • We see Nadia in a small bikini (or bra and panties) and all three men in their boxer-like swim trunks (or boxers) as they frolic in a lake. We then see her again in her wet bra and panties as she gets out.
  • John hears some strange sounds coming from Nadia's room, and doesn't know exactly what they are, although they sound sexual in nature.
  • We see John in his underwear.
  • We see John and Nadia in bed (we see her bare back), but they're just sleeping.
  • Happy about their criminal haul, Alexei does some celebratory pelvic thrusting and humps a guitar case.
  • Alexei asks Nadia how many times she had to "do it" with John. She doesn't want to answer but then says two or three.
  • We see John in just his underwear as he's tied to a hotel room toilet.
  • Nadia and Alexei kiss with him getting on top of her on a hotel bed, and she then straddles him (both are clothed).
  • After a comment is made regarding that if John wanted sex he could have just gone to a prostitute, he adds that it turns out he did (referring to Nadia).
  • After John mentions the term "shag" for sex (mockingly saying that she came to England to "shag" men to stay warm), Nadia wonders what that means and he tells her to look it up. He then adds that while she's there, she should look up "woman who has sex for money."
  • Nadia asks something about, "Did you think I'd grow up and f*ck strange men?"
  • John finds Nadia washing herself in a creek (clothed) and we see quite a bit of her bare legs and bare belly that she washes.
  • As John peers through a hotel's windows at night looking for Nadia, he sees a rather obese man sitting in his shorts watching TV. He then eventually sees Alexei kissing on Nadia and then going somewhere down her body (out of the camera shot) but then stops when Yuri interrupts them.
  • SMOKING
  • Nadia smokes around 10 times, while Alexei and Yuri each smoke at least once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The mail order bride industry.
  • Nadia using sex to make John happy and not return her.
  • Bondage.
  • Nadia repeatedly smokes and occasionally drinks despite being pregnant.
  • VIOLENCE
  • John hears all sorts of violence and then enters the kitchen to find Alexei going crazy and overturning things. Alexei then throws Yuri to the floor, pushes John and holds a knife to Nadia's throat (she has tape over her mouth and is tied to a chair). He then threatens to pour boiling hot water on her, but doesn't.
  • In a "trust and letting go" class (where people catch others who fall backwards into them), the catchers are distracted, resulting in those they're supposed to catch falling and hitting the floor.
  • As John tries to flee a crime scene, he crashes his car into a parked motorcycle and car.
  • We see John tied to a toilet in a hotel room, and he then finds Nadia tied to a radiator once he frees himself. He then purposefully yanks the tape off her mouth (so that it hurts her) and then slaps her (for betraying him). She then smacks him, and the two struggle (with her smacking at him and the two then pushing and squeezing each other's faces with their hands). He then pins her to a bed where she knees him in the crotch (causing him some pain). He then yanks a towel/blanket off the bed, sending her spinning off and onto the floor (all of which is played with somewhat of a light, comical tone).
  • Nadia smacks John, he smacks her back, and the two briefly struggle.
  • John and Nadia roll his car down through some woods where it smacks into a tree.
  • John spots Alexei grabbing Nadia and pulling her along as he walks off. He later spots him grab Nadia again and throw her to a hotel bed (and then sees the same again).
  • John confronts Alexei with Nadia's gun-shaped cigarette lighter, but the Russian knows it's a fake and punches John. Alexei grabs Nadia by the face and then holds a knife to John's throat. He then grabs John and throws him to the floor where he hits his head quite hard. Alexei is then on top of Nadia on the bed and as she struggles to get him off her, John hits him on the head with a guitar case, knocking him unconscious.



  • Reviewed January 22, 2002 / Posted February 1, 2002

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