Mail Order Wife

on March 11, 2005 by Bridget Byrne
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"Mail Order Wife" is a con. A good con, it's true, but like all cons it leaves a sour taste once the trick is revealed and that happens very early, despite the filmmakers' very clever attempt to pull off their scam and convince us that this is really a documentary, not a satire of one.

There are only a few supporting-role acting blips and some glimpses of inside-joke smugness to give the movie's mockumentary nature away to a less than probing observer, and its fakery is somehow annoying and disturbing, which proves that it's hitting home about issues that are clearly more serious than the attitude it takes towards is subject matter. It seems apt in an era obsessed with false relationships and faux reality shows and it's way more intelligent than the human follies it hard-heartedly and off-handedly skewers, but that doesn't make it admirable.

It's a con about a con -- everyone in the story is playing false, trying to take advantage of everyone else's failings, so it's not presenting us with any charming people to root for, believe them or not. That doesn't mean the movie isn't funny and astute at times, but it's always deliberately nasty.

The plot follows documentary filmmaker Andrew Gurland ("Frat House") as Andrew, a documentary filmmaker setting out to chronicle an average guy seeking a mail order bride. Adrian Martinez plays that guy, Adrian, and Eugenia Yuan soon shows up as the seemingly meek, needy Lichi, ripe for abuse. When the abuse occurs, Andrew steps in, but he's really just taking advantage of the situation to satisfy his own needs. When Lichi's true nature is revealed, the plot just gets meaner and meaner. Starring Andrew Gurland, Eugenia Yuan and Adrian Martinez. Directed and written by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland. Produced by Avram Ludwig, Kendall Morgan, Nina Yang and Andrew Weiner. Mockumentary. A First Independent/Dada release. Rated R for language and some disturbing sexual material. Running time: 92 min

Tags: Andrew Gurland, Eugenia Yuan and Adrian Martinez. Directed and written by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland. Produced by Avram Ludwig, Kendall Morgan, Nina Yang and Andrew Weiner. Mockumentary. A First Independent/Dada release, con, charming, smugness, observer
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