A caravan of marriage-minded pioneers was the premise of the sitcom "Here Come the Brides" and the musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." But the Dutch film "Bride Flight" is a melodrama set in a different place and time.
It's 1953, and scores of young women are flying to New Zealand to marry Dutchmen who have moved there. One of the few male passengers is handsome Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), who hopes to start a vineyard there. His funeral 50 years later will reunite three of the women, whose connections to him are traced in flashbacks.
Ada (Karina Smulders) is seated beside Frank, but she's traveling to marry a devout young man who impregnated her before moving to New Zealand. During a brief fuel stop in Pakistan, Ada and Frank feel the heat of their mutual attraction, but they realize they can never be together.
Esther (Anna Drijver) is a forthright fashion designer who prefers Frank to the Jewish suitor who is a reminder of the family she lost in the Holocaust. And cheerful Marjorie (Elise Schaap) is the born homemaker who soon discovers that she and her new husband cannot have children of their own.
What ensues is a soap opera that pits passion against parenthood. All three women engage in dubious behavior — infidelity, denial and lies — that a tougher film would scrutinize instead of romanticize. Even the potentially fruitful theme of immigrant culture shock goes mostly untapped.
The soft edges do make the implausible plot easier to swallow, and there are lush backdrops and attractive performers to distract us. Drijver, who has the assertive sensuality of a young Elizabeth Taylor, is a particular standout.
"Bride Flight" is a tearjerking romance that belongs to another era, when female moviegoers wanted to be transported, not grounded in grim realities.
Two and a half stars (out of four) • Rating R • Run time 2:10 • Content Some sexuality and nudity • Language In Dutch with English subtitles • Where Plaza Frontenac