I am not opposed to the idea of meeting your life partner online. There are countless examples of people who have managed to find their other half via Internet classifieds. I personally have never looked at the cyberspace as a viable substitute for reality but let's face it: we all live programmed lives where time is an issue. So, why not!
I have a slightly different opinion on the mail-in bride craze which has transformed a few visionaries into prosperous businessmen. I believe that finding your match halfway around the globe by browsing glossy catalogs and reading misleading profiles is only a few steps away from legalized human trafficking. Sure, you could argue that there are notable exceptions where wealthy bachelors have found their wives but as far as I am concerned such "borderless love" is more likely to bring disappointment and pain than happiness and joy.
In Natasha Guruleva's Russian Bride (2007) a lonely Russian girl (Elena Roth) is chosen by a mid-age programmer (Richard Virga) from New York looking to start a family. He exchanges profiles with the girl and flies her over to America for a trial. At first enthusiastic the wannabe housewife quickly grows lonely. After the inevitable realization that love can not be bought she is sent back home.
Instead of discussing the merits of this film, which by all means gets its message across very effectively, I am going to tell you what bothers me with the marriage-business. This should explain why I believe it is worth sparing ninety minutes of your time to see this film.
First, I find it very strange that there are people who actually hope to find a partner on the other side of the world, assuming of course that this is what they are after, by "importing" a human being the same way they would order an exotic collector's item. It is sad, wrong, and above all very telling about the kind of person you are if a glossy catalog is where you end up looking for a spouse. Perhaps I am old fashioned, not up to speed with what is hip and cool, and with outdated understandings about romance, but in my mind this marriage-business isn't too far off another "business" where you are offered an hourly companionship in exchange for a few hundred dollars.
Second, I struggle to accept the fact that there are so many desperate Russian women who are willing to "start a family" with a man they have never spoken to. Isn't it humiliating to be offered a "trial period"?
I am unsure what technology would bring us next. With much of the dating game now out the window, plenty of online agencies promising us the love we always deserved, and enough poor girls willing to "make it work" I guess we are approaching the Golden Age of Marital Happiness...not!
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but not enhanced for widescreen TVs the film looks relatively stable. This is a low-budget independent production which appears to have been shot with a DV camera and obviously the overall quality varies. Contrast is mostly fine as during the daylight scenes the image quality appears sharper and better defined while indoor scenes where natural lighting isn't present offer notable grain. I noticed some digital noise but the overall look of the film is acceptable.
How Does the DVD Sound?
An English DD track is what we have here and once again the low-budget feel is quite noticeable. The dialog is easy to follow and I did not detect any disturbing hissing or audio dropouts. English subtitles are not available.
Aside from a few trailers and a gallery of stills there is a "Making Of" Featurette which offers some insightful comments by the director of the film who is also of Russian origin. The piece addresses some of the misconceptions about Russians, how the project came to be, as well as some technical information.
Russian Bride is a film that must be seen. It is honest, unsweetened, and very telling about a practice I hope has become old-fashioned. I can not recall the last time a film spurred such antagonistic emotions in me.