Less a film, more a series of ragtag gags, Mail Order Wife will surely win over the Meet Wally Sparks set of indie connoisseurs. The flickeroo begins a well-carved mockumentary detailing a pathetic but well-intentioned Adrian’s (Adrian Martinez) purchase of Burmese bride Lichi (Eugenia Yuan) and the couple’s inevitable culture clash (not to mention Martinez’s life-imitates-art ’50s sitcom husband and life-imitates-snuff brutality). Then Adrian “cancels” the doc, Lichi leaves him for documentary maker Andrew (co-director Andrew Gurland), and three levels of meta later, Mail Order Wife is an aimlessly symbolic critique of the whole documentary-making process. While an empowered Lichi goes Nietzsche (yawn), Andrew learns he’s as revolting as Adrian, possibly an oblique reference to Rodney Dangerfield’s own epiphanies in Back to School and, debatably, Ladybugs. Deep inside the stacks of this nesting doll is, cough, no respect.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005