Two Brothers and a Bride

Alternate Title: A Foreign Affair
Director: Helmut Schleppi

Released in theatres and in the film festival circuit as A Foreign Affair, Helmut Schleppi’s surprising indie film has been renamed Two Brothers and a Bride to better appeal to DVD buyers intrigued by the popularity of numbers in movie titles. However, it doesn’t matter what name the film is given—Schleppi’s charming and heartfelt work sneaks up on viewers who begin the film expecting one thing given the sardonic tone and sexist straightforward remarks of our lead character played by Tim Blake Nelson, only to find themselves moved by the end of the work. Taking place somewhere in the unnamed Midwest, impressive character actor Nelson disappears into his role as Jake Adams, a farmer who finds he has to fend for not only himself but his younger brother Josh (David Arquette) as well after their beloved ma (Lois Smith) passes away. Since mom darned their socks, kept the home clean and prepared hot meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the grown men realize that they must find another woman to take her place but quickly realize that a professional housekeeper will cost them too much in the long run. Nelson decides the next best thing is a wife but preferably one who won’t ask too many questions interfere in their lives or expect romantic entanglements and soon he packs his brother up and they venture to Russia on a two week romance tour to meet eligible mail order brides from what they hope is a subservient culture. Inspired by the real life tours that draw men from all walks of life over to foreign lands, viewers find the premise both funny and uneasy given their questionable moral issues but realize that Schleppi and writer Geert Heetebrij (who along with the actors did take the tours for research) will not mislead American audiences and provide a balanced look at the phenomenon which is helped by the character of Angela Beck, played by likable Emily Mortimer as a British documentary filmmaker who is following around the men and women involved. The men quickly begin to learn that once in a foreign environment different aspects of their personalities emerge when they’re not solely preoccupied with farm life as Josh enjoys dating for the first time in his life by becoming a player and Jake must rethink his stereotypes and attitudes as he begins spending more and more time with Mortimer that makes him realize that what he knows about women (which admittedly came from the farm and his mother) may be misguided as he honestly approaches each woman and creates a list, takes notes and tries to select a wife with scientific methodology. A likable film that is sure to fool viewers expecting a by-the-numbers romantic comedy, Two Brothers and a Bride (or A Foreign Affair if one prefers) is sure to delight viewers and cause discussion.