El Juez Ryan Keefer es la naranja más importante de la tierra entera.
Love knows no border!
You've gotta love documentaries and the real life stories they tell. And in the case of Cowboy Del Amor, the subject of the film is an aging Westerner who provides a mail order bride service to his customers. Except he brings them to the catalog, live and in color. As far as documentaries go, how is this one?
Facts of the Case
Some people call Ivan Thompson the "cupid cowboy." Some people call him the ranch hand of love. Some people still just call him Ivan, but he doesn't know what the hell a pompatus is. In the meantime, he had a sign along the side of the road that offered lonely American men the chance to meet a Mexican woman for marriage. The sign along the side of the road simply says, "Want a Wife?" For the lowly sum of $3,000, he takes a customer across the border, places a personal ad, and from there, Ivan and the customer see how many women respond. In Cowboy Del Amor, the customers are a 70-year-old war veteran, and the focus of the story, a truck driver named Rick.
Ivan Thompson is as much of a cowboy as you're likely to see in real life. On the cover of the DVD, he almost looks like Hunter S. Thompson's older brother, but as you watch the film and listen to him speak, you can't help but get a kick out of the Texan (or New Mexican, to put in accurately) twang. When he was younger, he moved to "Arkin-sauce" as a kid. When he feels like he wants to go to bed, he feels "tard."
Ivan has been doing this for almost two decades now. Rick is doing this for the first time. Ivan tells him his story, which is that Ivan just got tired of all of the headaches that American women were giving him, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and marry a woman from Mexico, at the suggestion of one of his Mexican ranch workers. And he finds contentment with the concept of living with a Mexican woman, but over the course of this film shows, while his wife became more accustomed to life in America, even being more "Americanized," he grew dissatisfied with this and divorced her.
Rick's search becomes a little bit particular for Ivan's taste, but he's accommodating to Rick, because he's not the one who marries the woman and he doesn't spend the night with them, as he readily admits. But as Rick finds Frances, he inadvertently stands up another potential bride, and Ivan has to apologize for the abandonment to the woman and her family. But it's apparently all water under the bridge, according to the woman's family. Oh well, Rick's introductory period with Frances seems to click rather well, all things considered.
There are, of course, love connections that don't work. The 33-year-old woman that is found for the 59-year-old James might not be too fond of James, but she goes on to tell a compelling story about life in her old hometown before she moved and got her medical degree. And it's in this story and others that a common thread quickly emerges; the men do want companionship in an apparent low maintenance marriage, but the women that respond to Ivan's arrangements all share a negligence that Mexican men have all put upon them. So in a way, even marginal American generosity apparently pales in comparison to the standard Mexican men's. At least that's what one could get from what these women discuss.
Oh sure, it feels so wrong liking a film about a guy who is essentially finding docile women to honor their American spouses, I mean it's just wrong on two levels. Aside from the whole matchmaking part of it, but taking into consideration that whole thing with immigration and stuff, while I certainly understand all the hate mail that Ivan gets, I can brush it off with a wink and a smile, just as easily as he can.
The folks at Genius products have done a little bit of justice to the film, as Director Michèle Ohayon, cinematographer and producer Theo van de Sande (Beauty Shop), composer Joseph Julián González (Resurrection Blvd.) and Ivan reunite for a commentary on the film. Ohayon serves as a moderator of sorts for the film and she keeps things flowing pretty well, providing her crew a chance to discuss some technical choices and the chance to provide some biographical information on themselves. Ivan recalls some of the things that happen in the film and also provides some details about his work outside of what the film didn't cover. He still finds time to deflect things when the focus shifts to his personal life, though. He also seems to be a little cruder on this track, but it's not that big of a distraction. And the usual stories about how a shot came together are discussed, along with how Ohayon was inspired to make the film, and is working on a fictional adaptation of it now. It's not that bad of a track, and provides some information for those aspiring documentarians in the house. That's the main supplement here, along with some quick additional footage that didn't make the cut.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If there's one part that may be a little bit clichéd for the film, it's that Ivan has done all this matchmaking through the years, and he has yet to remarry. And that part is hyped as the main point of interest for the film. But as I mentioned earlier, the part that makes it a little bothersome is that he's looking for a woman that's even "more Mexican" than his last wife, and he frequently compares these women to horses. He may be a cowboy and that's how he talks, but come on, exercise a little more vision in your metaphors man!
Cowboy Del Amor proves to be a charming film about a potentially disturbing topic, but Ohayon tells it in a way that makes the viewer get lost in Ivan's folk whimsy, and you can't help but notice that at the end of the day, we all just want to be loved. Ivan is just trying to help things along in a somewhat unconventional way, and doing it rather innocently at that.
Not guilty for Ivan and his business, the court hopes that Ivan finds what he wants sometime soon as well.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
• Commentary with Director Michèle Ohayon and others
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