Film review by Colin Fraser


A ship full of mail-order brides is bound for New York. On board is an American photographer who becomes romantically entangeled with a Greek woman. score

moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
Damian Lewis, Victoria Haralabidou, Andrea Ferreol, Steven Berkoff

Pantelis Voulgaris

Ioanna Karystiani

Greece (some subtitles)

Rating / Running Time
MA / 128 minutes

Australian Release
September 2005

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2005
ABN 72 775 390 361

In 1922, the steamship King Alexander left Europe with 700 mail order brides on board. They’re intended for single immigrant workers in America and carry the hopes and dreams of family and nationhood with them. Brides is, in effect, three of the most expensive Greek films ever produced: two movies we see and one we don’t. The first is the most successful: billowing melodrama in which a pair of star-crossed lovers (one Greek, one American, she third class, he first) wrangle with destiny. Their story uses the Diaspora to provide colour and tone against which our serendipitous pair do their best not to fall in love. It’s a difficult task as fate has put the couple into close quarters on the slow, trans-Atlantic journey. A photographer, the American is commissioned to take a portrait of each bride, much to the displeasure of a Russian immigration ‘specialist’ (Steven Berkoff). Therein lies the friction though it’s more akin to a saddle bur than a set of spurs.

There’s an acknowledgement of tumultuous times and the determination that drove so many women to leave home (the film’s second story) yet Brides deliberately reflects the ship’s languid pace to takes its time, but in truth, it goes on a bit. The measured tone fails to generate much urgency and in the absence of contemporary politics (the film’s untold story and a critical oversight), remains little more than a simple love story. A grand one mind you, whose evocative production is as rousing as the affection is heartfelt. Nonetheless, Brides seldom rises above touching melodrama to reach the Lean classic it aspires to be.