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article imageReview: Ain’t no river wide enough in ‘Love Me’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 22, 2014 in Entertainment
In ‘Love Me’, single men and women abandon their comfort zones to look for love in a foreign land via international dating websites.
Not so long ago, it was considered unusual to believe a person you met online had any potential that extended beyond a one-night stand or a short fling. Dating websites had become the new bar. But now many choose not to restrict their search for a life partner to their inner circles or chance encounters. Relying on extensive questionnaires, complicated algorithms and the honour system, people are increasingly meeting their long-term mates by computer. In Love Me, they go one step further by expanding the search pool overseas.
“Foreign Affair” is an online dating site that matches American men with Ukrainian women. The film follows five successful men whose loneliness has pushed them to seek companionship in another country. Several of the men are divorced, while one has never had a serious relationship and another lives in a town with limited options. Also profiled is an Australian man who lost two wives to adultery and illness respectively, and is now hoping to find wife no. 3 in Eastern Europe. Their journeys are recorded from early email correspondence to a whirlwind trip to three cities in the Ukraine that offer the opportunity to meet the women they’ve written as well as countless others at a social equivalent to prom. Within hours, days and months, some of the men are considering marriage while others are confronting betrayals and heartbreak.
A scene from  Love Me
A scene from 'Love Me'
Hot Docs
The concept of a “mail-order bride” is filled with misconceptions, stereotypes and stigmas. This documentary does not appear to set out with a mandate to prove or disprove them, but rather uncover the truth of this rather misunderstood process. Eric and Bobby fit the preconceived pattern of men who are slightly overweight and awkward, and therefore don’t think it’s possible to meet a woman at home. Conversely, Robert and Ron are attractive in-person and on paper but haven’t been able to find Mrs. Right locally. On the other side of the ocean, some of the women they meet are genuinely interested in finding a partner, getting married and starting a family. Unfortunately, as suspected, there are others who are preying on their aloneness and using them for money.
The film is well-structured, giving an even amount of time to each character as well as allowing for input from the men and women who run the dating websites. It’s edited logically and flows nicely. After the initial visit to the Ukraine, filmmakers follow-up with everyone three and then six months later, finding them in various stages of their relationships and ensuring there are no loose ends for the audience. The interview format works well as everyone involved is relatively candid about their feelings, and the combination of a fly-on-the-wall method captures most of their romantic encounters.
No emotional attachment is established with the characters, but it’s not necessary to identify with them to appreciate their stories.
Love Me is screening in the “Love, Factually” programme at the Hot Docs Film Festival.
Director: Jonathon Narducci
More about love me, Hot Docs Film Festival, Jonathon Narducci, Mail order brides, Documentary
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