My Online Bride

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
My Online Bride Movie Poster Image
Unbalanced docu about mail-order brides has cursing, sex.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 47 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Men who pay thousands of dollars to find wives in Thailand and Ukraine seem to be looking for housekeepers who will also provide sex.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three men who can't find wives in the United Kingdom pay online services to connect them with women who want to move to the UK and financially improve their lives. In some cases the families of the women demand money of the men. One woman actively trying to close the deal with an English suitor is pregnant with another foreign man's child. The men, some of whom spend their last penny to travel to the women, seem oblivious to the fact that the women are looking for financial stability at least as much as love. 

Violence
Sex

Although cautioned not to have sex right after the first meeting, a British man sleeps with the first Ukrainian woman he meets through his online marriage website. Then he decides to keep looking. A Thai woman looking for a British husband fails to communicate that she is pregnant with another foreign suitor's child.

Language

"F--k," "s--t."

Consumerism

The movie is about consumerism. Wives, and the cleaning they do and sexual favors they offer, are the products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Online Bride is a 2014 British television short documentary that follows three British men in a supposed quest for "love." They each seem to believe their prospects for romance will improve if they give approximately $4,000 to online matching agencies specializing in Ukrainian and Thai brides. It's reasonable to conclude that the women all want to move to the United Kingdom in order to improve their lives economically. The men, all working class, seem to be looking for sex-toy housekeepers. One man visits a Ukrainian prospect and, against the agency's recommendations, has sex with her the day he meets her. A Thai woman looking for a British husband fails to communicate that she is pregnant with another foreign suitor's child.

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What's the story?

MY ONLINE BRIDE follows three men. One is a call center worker with no romantic experience or any real social skills. Another is a divorced father of two with limited financial resources. The last is a divorced postman. All are on supposed quests for love of a foreign woman. Through online marriage agencies, all of them spend all or most of their savings to travel to Thailand or the Ukraine in pursuit of brides. After a trip or two to Thailand and weeks of online communications, one is readying his English home for his new wife's arrival but leaves a mess because it will be her job to do the housekeeping. Another leaves his kids home and travels to Thailand where he bonds with a woman until he meets her family. They demand money from him before the relationship can progress. He breaks it off, learning later that she was pregnant with another foreign man's child. The youngest man is invited to stay at a Ukrainian woman's apartment and, against agency rules, he sleeps with her the first night. Then he moves out and requests meetings with other women. The conclusion he optimistically draws from the tour the agency has prepared for him is that "if hundreds of women could be interested [in me], then why can't thousands?"

Is it any good?

This documentary illustrates a disturbing social phenomenon and as such might prompt interesting discussions about the monetization of marriage. Some might argue that marriage has always been an institution wholly dictated by financial considerations. But, as the perky narrator asks: "Can you put a price on love?" Apparently, the answer is yes. One agency employee in charge of introducing men to lots of women promises that under his guidance they will "meet more beauties in seven days than you'd meet in a lifetime." He also promises that for Thai women, "the culture is to take care of the man." What's really disturbing about My Online Bride is that at first glance it seems the director takes no position, pro or con, on the practice presented in this slice-of-life look at three British guys looking for "love." But the film neglects to examine the way this lucrative industry implicitly exploits women, how its existence is based on Third World poverty and yearnings for upward mobility, and how it could not thrive without a dependence on oppressive male attitudes toward the role of women in society. By withholding the negatives, the filmmaker in effect endorses the practice.

Either out of professional laziness or bias, the documentary fails to even wonder --  never mind research -- what motivates women to uproot themselves from family, language, country, and sometimes children just to marry a near stranger from halfway around the world. The fact that the men live where the standard of living is high -- the United Kingdom -- might have something to do with it. (Many people around the world mistakenly believe that all British and Americans are wealthy.) Also, while we know that true love is based on less superficial stuff, it can't be ignored that in this film the men are not good-looking, rich, nor particularly sharp. The movie notes that 20 percent of the Thai people survive on less than a British pound per day. What exactly do these guys think these economically disadvantaged women are looking for?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the information about online brides that My Online Bride fails to examine. Why might women in economically-deprived countries want to marry men they hardly know from wealthier countries? Do you think the women are looking for love or an improvement in their standard of living?

  • What do you think about men who pay thousands of dollars to travel to other countries with the goal of marrying women in need? Some of the women barely speak English. Is it fair to draw conclusions about these men and to wonder about their ability to relate to women on an equal basis?

  • Would you like the filmmakers to have shown whether the online services are successful in putting people together for long-term, love relationships? Do you think many of the relationships featured here lasted?

Movie details

For kids who love documentaries and true stories

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