Birthday Girl
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You’ve seen Pretty Woman, right? That sweet movie about a beautiful woman with a rough life who gets her lucky break and ends up as the companion of a lonely guy who works too much to have a real relationship—and the two are forced to overcome their differences and build a strong bond of trust between them…

Of course you’ve seen it. Who hasn’t?

Birthday Girl, then, is kinda like Pretty Woman—only a lot darker, and with more subtitles.

Ben Chaplin plays John, a lonely British bank employee who gives up on dating and decides to get himself a bride—so he orders one online from a place called From Russia With Love. When he goes to the airport to pick up his new bride, Nadia (played by frighteningly—and even distractingly—thin Nicole Kidman), there are a few problems. First, she smokes—and he was pretty sure she was a non-smoker. And second, she doesn’t speak English. John frantically tries to call the mail-order bride agency and return his new bride (convenient, isn’t it?), but she senses that there’s a problem, so she takes him off to the bedroom to persuade him to let her stay. And just like Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman, Nadia is extremely persuasive.

  
 
So Ben decides to keep her. In fact, even though she doesn’t speak his language, Nadia starts to grow on him. But that’s when things go wrong.

One day, Nadia announces that it’s her birthday (using the Russian-English dictionary that John bought for her—a book she normally just uses to kill ants). They’re in the middle of a nice, intimate birthday party when two Russian guys, Yuri and Alexei, show up, claiming to be Nadia’s “cousins.” But, over the course of a few days, John notices that Alexei is getting a little too close to Nadia—so he gets jealous and tells the two men that they have to leave. The next thing he knows, Alexei flips out and threatens to kill them all if John doesn’t pay up—and John begins to realize that rescuing a poor, helpless, beautiful woman (who, incidentally, dresses a lot like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman) from her underprivileged country and bringing her into his home might not have been such a bright idea after all.

I won’t tell you what happens next—I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you—but I will tell you that the rest of the movie has a lot more action than even the most frenzied scene in Pretty Woman. There’s so much more to this movie than a prostitute trying to get the saleswomen on Rodeo Drive to let her shop in their stores. Birthday Girl may be a bit slow at the beginning—but it speeds right up, taking you through all kinds of twists and turns before its (somewhat predictable) conclusion.

Birthday Girl has a little of everything. There’s action. There’s humor. There’s drama. And, well, there’s not as much romance as there is rough, steamy passion. There’s also Ben Chaplin, who does a wonderful job of playing that quiet, innocent guy at work—the one you say hello to but never really get to know. And, of course, there’s Nicole Kidman, who’s surprisingly convincing as a Russian woman—and who, by her mere presence in the movie, will ensure that you won’t have a problem convincing a guy to watch this movie with you.

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