EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|A FOREIGN AFFAIR (2 Brothers & a Bride) (director: Helmut Schleppi; screenwriter: Geert Heetebrij; cinematographers: M. David Mullen/Helmut Schleppi; editor: Hans van Riet; music: Todd Capps; cast: Tim Blake Nelson (Jake Adams), David Arquette (Josh Adams), Lois Smith (Ma Adams), Allyce Beasley (Library Lady), Larry Pine (Tour Host Ken), Emily Mortimer (Angela Beck), Megan Follows (Lena), Nonna Velikaya (Ana); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Geert Heetebrij/David-Jan Bijker/Helmut Schleppi; Innovation Film Group and Zenpix; 2003)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
First time director Helmut Schleppi helms, from a screenplay by Geert Heetebrij, this offbeat comedy/drama about two mismatched socially awkward bachelor twentysomething brothers, Jake and Josh Adams (Tim Blake Nelson & David Arquette), who wallow in misery when their overbearing loving mom dies and leaves them unfit to care for themselves on their vegetable farm somewhere in the Midwest. After trying to get household help via a series of cleaning ladies, they find themselves eating out of cans and growing irritable as they can't get anyone to keep house for them because they are slobs. The more aggressive and functioning older bro, Jake, arranges for an expensive two week "romance tour" of St. Petersburg, Russia, by accessing the website loveme.com (a real site), which offers a program for singles called "Foreign Affair." They're not looking for romance but actually one housekeeper to serve both of them, and are willing to sign a contract stipulating this arrangement for two years in exchange for helping the woman get a green card.
It all sounds like a silly sitcom premise, and never engaged me with the brothers' overblown plight. I never believed their situation for a single moment, and was not tickled by the obvious attempts at comedy drawn out of their inadequacies to communicate as they swoop down on their Russian prey by offering to buy them and place them into some kind of indentured servitude.
The always smiling tour guide and pitchman Ken, who met his Russian wife through this website offer, steers the brothers to meet the scores of Russian women at socials who are dying to meet these lonely Yanks; the unstable Josh and the business-like no-nonsense Jake inevitably conflict and end up going their separate ways to meet the ladies. Josh breaks free of his brother's hold and meets sexy Ana--which leads him to forget about the 'woman sought as a housekeeper' and he goes romancing with many of the ladies. The serious Jake has no luck tracking down the housekeeper of his dreams (all by the way, good-lookers). He gets sidetracked when a Brit journalist living in Russia, Angela Beck (Emily Mortimer), someone fluent in Russian, is shooting a documentary about the website. Angela gets involved with Jake as a translator and a love interest between them slowly grows. The witty lady tells the humorless but honest farmer: "Your biggest problem is that you're far too easily pleased." For those who are easily pleased, this also might be viewed as an acceptable indie romantic comedy.
Scheppi's direction is as clumsy as are the rube brothers on the trail of hot Russky women. He mixes in reality TV interviews with his fictionalized tale, but he does it so awkwardly that it breaks the film's comical mood. "A Foreign Affair" never amounts to much of anything, and the characters never become interesting. The main thing this flick has going for it, is its unique premise.
REVIEWED ON 1/18/2005 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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