Friday, May 02, 2008

"My Big Armenian Wedding"

Four part Russian miniseries. "Моя большая Армянская свадьба", or "Moya Balshaya Armyanskaya Svad-ba". Really funny. It's a take off on the U.S. film "My big fat Greek wedding". In this case it tells the story of an Armenian plastic surgeon in Moscow who falls in love with a museum docent, who doubles as a book keeper. It's a classic story. She's going out with an old childhood friend who has become a semi-Mafioso figure, who has all the money in the world but is an idiot. He proposes after bringing a stupid cake back from Paris where most of it is taken up with a model of the Eiffel Tower and she rejects him, but in a nice enough way.

He's not really looking for love, but is surrounded by lots of very grateful women that he's operated on who are all infatuated with him. One day, in the museum where she works he's talking to his aunt and a kid who isn't identified as how he's related to them when their eyes meet.

Very romantically, he comes back the next day, slipping past the guard to the book keeping department by borrowing a pizza delivery guy's outfit and offering to deliver his pizzas for him in the building.

There follows a court ship with intrigue on the part of both families, and some cultural misunderstandings on the part of the folks. No real racism is in evidence except in one meeting of Tigran, the groom, with Lena's family where her mother makes reference to flower sellers from Yerevan, the capitol of Armenia, implying that his family is just a bunch of flower sellers. He's famous enough to have his face on the cover of a Moscow magazine, his father is an ex-psychiatrist, and his brother is a Cosmologist whose room is plastered with equations and who hopes to win a Nobel Prize for a new star that he's calculated should exist. For their part, Tigran's family is concerned about her being too thin, with his mother talking about her stupid looking blue eyes.

The families meet accidentally, his father is now working as a cabbie and her mother gets into the cab and starts complaining about her daughter's choice in marriage, and then come together to collectively plot how to separate them.

He goes to Armenia and is ambushed by his relatives who have set up a series of bride interviews through a match maker, while the old boyfriend is encouraged to spend as much time as possible with Lena.

Doesn't work out.

The best thing, the very unique thing, is of course looking at the relationship between two cultures that are each different from that of the United States, seeing their interrelationship. Armenia was part of the Soviet Union, and so has a sort of inferior status in Russian culture. The striking thing is that despite the cultural difference the courtship and wedding are a hell of a lot more normal than that of the groom and bride in "Big Fat Greek Wedding". While this might be by design, I think a lot of it has to do with the fucked up nature of United States culture versus that of basically anywhere else, because cultural differences are exaggerated here to such an excessive point. You can't have two different cultures interacting here, instead it has to become A Big Issue, because the mainstream U.S. is so hostile to things that are in any way different than it. "His family is from Scotland, hers came over on the Mayflower, can they make it work?" could be a subject for a U.S. miniseries. Especially these days.

The idea that a simple, silly, sort of romance could actually work is kind of foreign to the United States as well. Tigran would no doubt be arrested as a stalker and given a restraining order for pulling the pizza stunt. I'm exaggerating but, as silly as it is, I don't think that the idea of love is as strong here.

So, yeah, very funny, good movie, and you probably won't be able to get a hold of it or play it in your DVD player.

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