How to save money on a Latvian film

Es mīlu Jūsu meitu

It’s funny how 75 minutes sitting in front of the television can change one’s perspective. When I stopped in a downtown Rīga shop to buy a copy of Es mīlu Jūsu meitu, I thought the 5 lats I paid was a bargain. After watching the film, I am grateful I only lost 5 lats on the purchase.

The film, released last year, was billed as the first Latvian feature film in DVD format. It’s produced by the same folks who put together the popular “Mēmais šovs” comedy program on Latvian Independent Television (Latvijas Neatkarīgā televīzija). While “Mēmais šovs” at times is very funny—sometimes painfully so—the film fails in so many ways that, well, it’s not funny.

The premise of the film had potential. Matīss (played by Regnārs Vaivars), a country bumpkin, decides to pitch life on the farm and move to Rīga. He falls in love with the somewhat naive Sintija (Jana Duļevska), the daughter of a well-to-do family. They decide to get married. Matīss’ future father-in-law Georgs (Uldis Dumpis) gives him LVL 10,000 for the wedding and Matīss, in an effort at frugality, hires a couple of wedding planners who also organize funerals under the company name SIA Svētie mirkļi. The wedding planners are played by Baiba Sipeniece and Valters Krauze, two of the regulars on “Memais šovs.”

Instead of the chic but inexpensive wedding Matīss wants, he gets one full of absurd variations of Latvian traditions, plus plenty of misunderstandings and accidents. Matīss takes the wedding planners to court, accusing them of a series of misdeeds including attempted murder. That’s where the story takes off, as the audience is presented a series of flashbacks to witness what happened.

That’s also where the film begins to suffer. The various scenes of absurdity seem to be penned by high school sophomores who delight in pratfalls and other violence. Watch enough “Mēmais šovs” and you will understand.  For me, a large part of the problem with the film is Sipeniece and Krauze. In small doses they can be funny, but more often I find them annoying.

Here’s the spoiler: The whole affair is actually a plan by Georgs to test the true intentions of his son-in-law.

Some of what we see in this film might be viewed as commentary on Latvian stereotypes, but it could have been handled with much greater nuance.

The DVD provides multiple languages, including awful English subtitles.

Don’t be like me. If you spot Es mīlu Jūsu meitu in a shop, keep walking and save your money.


Es mīlu Jūsu meitu

Viesturs Dūle, Edmunds Jansons and Aldis Kalniņš, directors

Memais šovs,  2004

Notes: Comedy, in color, 75 minutes. In Latvian (options include dubbing in Russian and subtitles in Latvian, English, Russian, Lithuania and Estonian). Directors: Viesturs Dūle, Edmunds Jansons and Aldis Kalniņš. Principal actors: Uldis Dumpis, Valters Krauze, Baiba Sipeniece, Jana Duļevska, Regnārs Vaivars and Regīna Razuma.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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