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My Mother, My Bride and I

An ingratiating opposites-attract comedy cursed with an anticlimactic third act, "My Mother, My Bride and I" tells of a forlorn gas station proprietor who juggles his manipulative nurturer and a fiery Romanian mail-order mate.

With:
With: Monica Bleibtreu, Matthias Brandt, Maria Popistasu, Maia Morgenstern.

An ingratiating opposites-attract comedy cursed with an anticlimactic third act, “My Mother, My Bride and I” tells of a forlorn gas station proprietor who juggles his manipulative nurturer and a fiery Romanian mail-order mate. Deft comic interplay among the three leads will earn pic fest slots and tube berths, though theatrical’s a reach.

Alone in the countryside with his smothering mom (Monica Bleibtreu) and a tank of tropical fish, Erwin Kobarek (Matthias Brandt) screws up his courage and flies to Bucharest to meet with matchmaker Bogdana (Maia Morgenstern). From a group of finalists, he selects Irina (Maria Popistasu, who looks like a young Tracey Ullman). Back home, the stage is set for a showdown between two women with very different agendas. Gone is the Sturm und Drang of helmer Hans Steinbichler’s previous pic, “Winter Journey.” In its place is a light comedic touch anchored by Brandt’s mischievous expressiveness, Popistasu’s energy and Bleibtreu’s fearful matronly stares. When Mom takes ill at the hour mark, thesp-turned-screenwriter Robert Seethaler’s script is as surprised as anyone, and pic never recovers equilibrium. Tech credits are modest, with Christian Rein’s jiggly camera a distraction from the story.

My Mother, My Bride and I

Germany

Production: A Sperl + Schott Film production. (International sales: Beta Cinema, Oberhaching, Germany.) Produced by Gabriela Sperl. Directed by Hans Steinbichler. Screenplay, Robert Seethaler.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm-to-35mm), Christian Rein; editor, Christian Lonk; music, Antek Lazarkiewicz; production designer, Andrea Douglas; costume designer, Katharina Ost. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 10, 2008. Original title: Die zweit Frau. German, Romanian dialogue. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Monica Bleibtreu, Matthias Brandt, Maria Popistasu, Maia Morgenstern.

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