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DVD Talk review of 'Russian Bride'

Old 11-13-07, 08:55 AM
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DVD Talk review of 'Russian Bride'

I read Svet Atanasov's DVD review of Russian Bride at http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=31375 and...

I like that Svet doesn’t obscure his personal biases in his reviews. I enjoy learning a bit more about what makes him tick in each review; I honestly do. However, I wish a bit more had been said about the actual film itself.

After spending the first two introductory paragraphs talking about his views on the mail order bride business, Svet sums up the plot in three sentences (which would probably deserve a spoiler warning if it wasn't so formulaic), and then declares

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.
I thought he'd already summed it up when he told us this:

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.
Instead of discussing the style, mechanics and execution of this film, Svet returns to discussing what troubles him about mail order brides: (1) it’s essentially equivalent to human trafficking, and (2) it’s degrading to the woman. Svet states

This should explain why I believe it is worth sparing ninety minutes of your time to see this film.
Really? How so? I already share Svet’s biases against the mail order bride business, so why should I spend 90 minutes to see my biases reinforced? The prospect of seeing a film that merely goes through the paces of showing me something I already believe to be true doesn't appeal to me. I want to see films that challenge or engage me through their content or presentation, and I want reviews to at least hint to me how the film in question might do that.

After concluding his comments about the technical aspects of the disc, Svet does provide a small peak into the execution of the film in his final thoughts:

It is honest, unsweetened, and very telling about a practice I hope has become old-fashioned.
What Svet tells us about the film in sum is that it "gets its message across very effectively" and that it is "honest, unsweetened, and very telling." Okay. I like “honest” and "unsweetened" films, but I often don't like "message" films that are "very telling" about their subject matters. I can overlook my general distaste for message films when the film is otherwise engaging (e.g., Lilya 4-ever), but ultimately this review doesn't much speak to how the film is engaging. So should I see it? I don't know.

Last edited by Yakuza Bengoshi; 11-13-07 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 11-13-07, 02:49 PM
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Hello Yakuza, allow me to respond to your criticism:

The reason I chose to speak about my emotions as opposed to dissecting the plot and actors’ work is because I believe Mrs. Guruleva had in mind precisely such sort of reaction from her viewers/critics: an emotional outcry of disproval. The mechanics of ordering a bride via the Internet are fairly straightforward and there is nothing here that proves otherwise. I did not feel that the film offered a profoundly different point of view nor did I expect it to given what I already know about this so called “service”. Like most viewers would, and from what I gather you would as well, I approached the film with an opinion:

I already share Svet’s biases against the mail order bride business, so why should I spend 90 minutes to see my biases reinforced? The prospect of seeing a film that merely goes through the paces of showing me something I already believe to be true doesn't appeal to me.
This being said I thought that it would be sufficient if I only described what takes place on the screen and emphasize that the feature is “unsweetened” and “honest”. In fact, I believe that you would be greatly disappointed if you expect to see a film as far-reaching and emotionally devastating as Moodysson’s Lilya 4-ever or even Kravchuk’s The Italian.

On the other hand if you only know about the mechanics of ordering a bride as opposed to actually seen what the process entails then by all means, as I have written, you should spare ninety minutes of your time and take a look. The plot hardly matters.

Finally, I do think that Russian Bride somewhat challenges one to question whether or not one can tolerate the mail-in bride business. The film certainly had an effect on me, solidifying my, as you described it, bias. Yet, I fail to see how I could’ve recommended this film based solely on its ability to be an engaging experience. Yes, it is telling, perhaps a better word would be informative, but not engaging. And that is why my review does not promote it as such.

Hope this helps,

Pro-B
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Old 11-13-07, 03:09 PM
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^Yes, that helps. Thanks. I'll be giving this a skip based on the further information you provided.
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Old 02-04-08, 12:28 PM
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In looking at the review for Russian Bride, I was astounded how misinformed the reviewer was on the entire process of "mail-order brides". I actually joined this forum specifically so I could respond to your "review", which was not really a film review but a diatribe. I can't fault you completely as I'm sure this perception comes from the over simplification of this process put forth in popular movies, but it is also combined with the reviewers obvious prejudices. I have been happily married for the past two years to a Russian woman I met on-line six years ago. And if you think this was like ordering a movie from Netflix and putting it in your queue, you are not only mistaken, but frankly quite offensive.

First of all, this notion of "mail-order brides" does not exist. To begin with, the US government makes it exceedingly difficult for any single women for an eastern block country to even enter the United States without a visa. This is to prevent human trafficking. It is also to insure that the man and woman have met outside the US and have some kind of real, ongoing relationship. Over the course of the first several years of our relationship, my wife and I met numerous times in Turkey and her home country of Kyrgystan. We then had to apply for her visa to enter the United States, a process which took almost an additional year to complete. We had to show the US consulate in her home country evidence of our relationship including letters back and forth, photos of the two of us together, airline tickets, etc. She had to have physical exams and blood work, and background checks through the local police department.

Let's move on to your second misconception, and I quote your review, "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"?”. Again, the movie is wrong and you are wrong. As I stated above, the US government has made it nearly impossible for this to happen. Plus, most Russian women I have met in the last six years, including my wife, are far more educated, typically bi-lingual, more well spoken and far more sophisticated than the average American woman. These Russian women are not desperate, they are just sick of the average Russian man who they generally (with of course exceptions) experience as demeaning to women, unreliable, unfaithful and many times alcoholic. I am not trying to pigeon-hole all Russian men in this way, but Russian women find American men generally more understanding, supportive, compassionate, reliable and faithful.

Please attempt at least a bit or research before your next "review". I found your attitudes arcane and offensive.
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Old 02-04-08, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Tarbo
In looking at the review for Russian Bride, I was astounded how misinformed the reviewer was on the entire process of "mail-order brides".
Thank you for joining the forum and commenting on my review. Here’s my reply:

First of all I do happen to be very well informed with the manner in which not only Russian women but Eastern European women as well are being treated with the so-called “mail-in bride” business. I was born in Eastern Europe and belong to a number of cultural and community centers where first generation Russian and Eastern European immigrants meet. I know more than well why and for what reason many Russian women agree to enter the business.

Second, the “mail-in bride” business is well and alive regardless of your claim that the US government has cracked down on it. It is however notably better streamlined than it was before.

Third, your critique hardly even applies to the review I have published. It appears that you had a relationship with the woman you married; the couple in the documentary I reviewed did not. They met in the US after having exchanged photos and videos in the mail.

Fourth, you are in fact profiling Russian men. The women who submit their ads to the advertising agencies do so not because they are disappointed with Russian men. They do so because of financial reasons. I know plenty of people in my community who were willing to do similar personal sacrificies.

I am an immigrant myself.

Fifth, the Russian women you would meet in America are anything but an indicator for the desperation witnessed amongst Russian women in Russia, specifically outside of the Moscow region. And yes, you did pigeon-whole Russian men in your statement.

Last but not least…the “mail-in business” is degrading, disgusting, and above all inhumane. Though for many Russian women it is admittedly the only way out of their collapsed and totalitarian again society.

Thank you!

Dr.A

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Old 02-04-08, 07:18 PM
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Pro-Bass and Tarbo,
let me add as well, you are both right - there are positive and negative aspects that you both mentioned which certainly exist. But I have to agree more with Tarbo - there's a serious problem in Russia. As much as I love the backwards, crazy uniqueness of Russia, Russia is a machismo culture filled with male ogres and Russian princesses. You can talk about Eastern Europe all you want, but there is a huge difference between Russia vs. Baltic countries/Poland/Czech Republic for example. Besides the statistics of tons more women than men in Russia, Russian men are generally how Tarbo described them. So besides the pain-in-the-ass visa situation for young Russian women to even vacation in another country, there is nothing wrong with a Russian woman testing out an American guy in USA, even if it fails. There is nothing wrong with any form of match-making. If the business marketing angle disturbs you, then you should also be disturbed also about the tradition of expensive American weddings (we can buy a house or we can have a wedding? hmmm...).

I'll now leave this off with a little taste of Russian male politics. I was just in Moscow and there I edited a government/UN-type research study transcript which was then presented from the Russian Transport Workers Union to the Russian govt that goes a little like this: In Russia, there is a problem with transport workers and H.I.V./AIDS. In Russia, they don't have those wonderful highway pit-stops for truckers or even people traveling cross-country by automobile as they do in USA and Europe. So these Russian transport workers are dissapointed with traveling conditions. They would like a decent place to stop and rest, get a bite to eat, have a little shower somewhere. But here's the grabber: "due to many weeks away from their families and due to many delays at borders (even up to two weeks), the Russian male transport workers have no choice but go into these small villages and have casual sex with girls, because of temptation and no "proper rest-areas for truckers." So these transport workers can have girlfriends at many different areas of their route. And in turn, these transport workers get infected with H.I.V. So the problem is not that these Russian men are cheating on their wives back home, the problem is that they did not get the literature/classes/awareness that it is possible to get AIDS from a street girl, whether she be a "sex worker" or not. And furthermore, when they go back home, their wives get infected with H.I.V......yes, this is an official Russian govt. research study...The Russian transport workers are blaming the govt. for getting AIDS due to the fact that men "have their needs" and they suffer from "temptation" on the road. The Russian Transport workers want better rest-area conditions so that they don't get seduced by "temptation," which will then lead them to AIDS.....I thought I was in a Twilight Zone episode. I don't think I've read a more wacky official document in my life. This is just a little example of how men think in Russia, from the poor working class trucker to an actual research study by the Russian govt. At this seminar, an American woman asked if it's possible that they are getting AIDS from homosexual behavior. And the Transport workers Union representative said "that is impossible. There is no way that would happen. Homosexual sex is non-existant in Russia." haha, what a great country, eh?
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Old 02-04-08, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by toddly6666
Pro-Bass and Tarbo,
let me add as well, you are both right - there are positive and negative aspects that you both mentioned which certainly exist. But I have to agree more with Tarbo - there's a serious problem in Russia. As much as I love the backwards, crazy uniqueness of Russia, Russia is a machismo culture filled with male ogres and Russian princesses. You can talk about Eastern Europe all you want, but there is a huge difference between Russia vs. Baltic countries/Poland/Czech Republic for example. Besides the statistics of tons more women than men in Russia, Russian men are generally how Tarbo described them. So besides the pain-in-the-ass visa situation for young Russian women to even vacation in another country, there is nothing wrong with a Russian woman testing out an American guy in USA, even if it fails. There is nothing wrong with any form of match-making. If the business marketing angle disturbs you, then you should also be disturbed also about the tradition of expensive American weddings (we can buy a house or we can have a wedding? hmmm...).
I am sorry to disagree with you as well. Your example concerning Poland/Hungary/Czech Republic hardly even applies to the issue at hand as these countries were in the first wave of ex-communist states to enter the European Union. Hence they acquired the right to travel without visa restrictions in Europe way ahead of the second wave of countries (Bulgaria/Romania) and many did not feel the need to look across the Ocean. The "mail-in-bride" business never flourished there.
Also I referred to Eastern European states, Poland/Hungary/Czech Republic are Central European. You could try and make a point about the Baltic states but they are always excluded by political analysts when Eastern Europe is addressed.

Specifically to your remark about testing...while there is nothing wrong with it on paper in reality there is more than enough wrong as many of the agencies that came to exist in the mid 90s were operating in the gray as well. They were a convenient pretext for legalized prostitution. Same scenario happened in Romania where many women were matched in France. The ethnic gypsies were openly forced into prostitution by "reputable" agencies.


As to the Russian alcoholic remark which was made in the initial reply it is downright degrading and reeking of cold-war mentality.

Pro-B

Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 02-04-08 at 10:32 PM.
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