Saturday, October 28, 2006

Mail Order Wife

I've seen a handful of movies dealing with the mail-order bride phenomenom, like Birthday Girl and Two Brothers and a Bride. But the best of the bunch is the one I saw today, Mail Order Wife.

The film starts off predictably enough, with a graceless sclub bringing over a mail-order bride from Burma. The guy's a doorman in New York, so the cost of this is beyond his means. Enter a documentary filmmaker eager to film the story of an average guy and his mail-order wife. Some money exchanges hands; the filmmaker gets his access.

When the bride arrives, there is a quick civil marriage, some scenes at home -- this is how you clean the toilet, this is how I'd like you to make chili -- and then a trip to the doctor's office, where the husband tries to get his wife to agree to having her tubes tied. Did I say the bride doesn't speak English? She doesn't, and she only learns her reason for being in the doctor's office when her interpreter explains the procedure.

By this point, we're about fifteen minutes into the mock-umentary, and you're thinking: Oh, god, this is creepy. And it's bad, because it's creepy in all the ways you expected it to be creepy. But when the mail-order bride runs away from her husband -- well, the film really takes off, and by the end no one's a victim and everyone's a loser. Or, as the LA Times put it in its review:

Mail Order Wife sends up everyone in its circuitous path — self-deluded lonely slobs, self-deluded documentary filmmakers ... gold-digging Geisha-girls and that specialized subset of muddle-headed manhood that confuses sexual exploitation with humanitarian concern.


If the nuggets of P.C. piety and social pretension skewered by "Mail Order Wife" were any meatier, the movie would be a shish kebab.

Get it. Just like any bad relationship, it's the type of thing that gains a whole new meaning when you watch it a second time around. And don't forget to sample the extra scenes available on the DVD. They're priceless. As is the surprise guest star, who was under house arrest when this film was shot and could only leave for the purposes of work.

1 Comment:

Dave said...

They cost too much