At a London airport, shy bank clerk John (Ben Chaplin) watches passengers arriving from an international flight. He's waiting for his mail order bride to arrive from Russia. When she finally appears, she's not exactly what John had in mind--tall, thin, and gangly, with scruffy hair and rings around her eyes, Nadia (Nicole Kidman) seems worn, apprehensive, and tired. As he drives her home, John discovers she can't speak a word of English, but she does smoke prodigiously. He makes repeated calls to the agency that arranged the marriage, leaving messages that a mistake has been made. But although Nadia doesn't know any English, John soon discovers that she knows all about sex. He changes his mind about sending her back.The opening of director Jez Butterworth's BIRTHDAY GIRL is amusing and raunchy. But the film takes off in another direction when, on Nadia's birthday, two boisterous Russians (exuberantly played by French actors Vincent Cassel and Matthieu Kassovitz) arrive and take over John's home. The clever, twisting narrative that follows is, by turns, surprising, funny, and suspenseful. Chaplin's thoughtful performance counterbalances Kidman's troubled volatile heroine, who is not who she seems to be.
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