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"Birthday Girl"

What an unexpected delight. Failing to read the cover properly, and assuming that because it had Nicole Kidman in it was going to be another Holywood number (itself a strange assumption given the awesome Dogville), I was amazed when it opened with John (Ben Chaplin) recording his pitch for a Russian bride in St Albans on his webcam – in a clearly low budget exercise.

I supposed the involvement of FilmFour should have given this away, but the real surprise was that it was hilarious, low budget, but also very gripping. There wasn’t any doubt from the start that this was going to be a very funny film, although very much black comedy rather than sit-com.

The basic premise is that Nadia (our Nicole) is the bride John has ordered, and after his initial shock at her not speaking English, starts falling for her. Then it’s her birthday, and two Russian friends from her past – Alexi and Yuri – turn up for the party (actually only one of them is her friend, the other is in a band with her friend). Party is probably an overstatement too.

It soon transpires that the Russian guests aren’t quite as nice as Nadia seems to think…
To say anymore would spoil it, but it was only shortly after this point that John seemed to snap and become a much more interesting character – as indeed did Nadia.

A really well executed film – full of ambiguity about who people really are, and what they feel for each other. And the ending was fantastic – very much in the Tarintino vein of not really resolving anything (e.g. Reservoir Dogs, and more modern films like Memento, Sideways, …), which I kind of like. It was a nice length too – very punchy!

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