Five Brides / Пять Невест (2011) – A Film Review (minor spoilers for the first half of the film)
As a big fan of foreign films, I wanted to share this sweet Russian gem with you. If you’re ever in need of a pick-me-up, look no further. Five Brides will transport you back to a time without computers and endless books that help one master the dating scene. Meet the youth of the mid-1940s who simply want to love and be loved in return without over-complicating matters with things like getting to know each other first.
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After WWII ended in 1945, some soldiers had to remain stationed at their posts in Germany as a precaution. The young pilots are naturally upset that they have to remain behind. After all, this means that all the prettiest girls will be taken by the time they get back home.
“The war is over! Now it’s time to think about girls and love.”
Tired of fighting just to survive, the boys want to go home and start families of their own. Vadim, one of the group, even already has a girl he can’t wait to marry. They have been writing letters to each other throughout the duration of the war. So, when Aleksei Kaverin is sent on a short vacation back to Russia, Vadim asks him to marry his Nastya in his stead and bring her back to the base with him. After all, these trips are few and far between, so there’s no telling when another chance will present itself.
Friendship Above All Else
Aleksei grudgingly agrees after having his friendship doubted. After all, nobody can manipulate as well as a friend can. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the rest of his friends suddenly decide that they want to get married too. They ask him to bring each of them back a wife, stating that they “trust his judgment.”
And so this impromptu holiday suddenly becomes a mission of the highest order of difficulty. Our brave pilot decides to face things squarely with a plan to act first and cross the next bridge if and when he gets to it, in what the girls are quick to call the “male approach.”
Meeting Vadim’s Fiancée a.k.a. The First Wedding
The adventures meet him head on as soon as he lands and arrives at Nastya’s (Vadim’s fiancée) house. Before Aleksei even has a chance to explain himself to her, they are rushed off to the officiator and married on the spot. So our first bride is taken a tad off guard when she realizes that the person she just married is not who she thought he was. She promptly faints on the spot “out of happiness.”
Hunting for Brides
With only a 24-hour window to find four willing brides, it soon becomes evident that our pilot is quite hopeless at this bride-hunting business. Thankfully, once the situation is explained to our wailing first bride, the girls take matters into their own capable hands.
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As luck would have it, the girls don’t need a lot of persuading. Indeed, some are even overenthusiastic like the second bride pictured above. They are just as eager to love and be loved. The fact that they don’t know anything about their future husbands is of little importance at a time when death could come swiftly and unexpectedly. War has a way of forcing people to live in the moment like nothing else. A big reason for this eagerness is that there are no available young men in this village. Most of them went off to war never to come back again.
Villagers and Pitchforks
It doesn’t take long for this Bride-Hunt to turn into a Bigamist-Hunt. In a small village such as this one, the relatives of the girls soon arm themselves with cooking and farming utensils and make our youth’s mission that much more difficult. Since the girls are more than willing to go off with the pilot, it doesn’t make it easy for the police and parents to catch them.
Aleksei & Zoya
Naturally, the film wouldn’t be complete without our groom having his shot at love too. He meets his match in Zoya, the driver of the postal/ getaway truck. She dresses like a man, is covered in machine oil, and makes it clear that she does not want to marry. In fact, by contrast, Aleksei becomes the feminine one and just one of the girls.
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A Familiar Face
The eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that the male lead looks very familiar. That is because you may have watched Danila Kozlovsky play Dimitri Belikov in the recent film adaptation of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. Admittedly, that particular film did not appeal to me in the end, but I cannot deny that each time this actor appeared on screen everything was a lot more exciting and interesting. So, if you liked him in Vampire Academy, you will love him in Five Brides. Especially since he sports his usual short hairstyle here which suits him infinitely better.
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Why You Should Watch Five Brides
It’s a kind of film that is both adorable and extremely funny. It depicts a situation that would probably never happen in real life (not even in the 1940s). But just because something isn’t realistic has never stopped us from enjoying it before.
This is such a feel-good film that it kept me laughing and cheering on our group of romantics from start to finish. Such films just don’t get made very often anymore, which is a shame. I love it when a modern film is put together in an old-fashioned style like this one was. This is clearly an homage to screwball comedies of yonder days. The fact that it is dedicated to everyone’s grandparents is also a lovely touch. It was a pleasure to watch this unlikely tale set at a time when love was something people went out of their way to get and keep.
“Marriage is a powerful thing. I’ve never even laid eyes on my husband and yet I miss him already!”
Content Note: This film is rated 14+ but is a fun film for the whole family to enjoy in my opinion. The only hint of impropriety is the philandering wife of the head of the base. There is no nudity, strong swearing or scenes of a sexual nature.
Where to Watch: Five Brides is not available on DVD with English subtitles, as far as I can tell. However, you can watch it for free on Central Partnership’s official YouTube channel by. Remember to turn on CC for subtitles and watch it while you can.
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a
matter of chance.”
(I would probably give this film a higher romance rating, but this quote was too fitting to miss out on the chance to use it!)
10 thoughts on “Five Brides (One Groom)- A Comedy About Love and Friendship”
I love anything Russian and haven’t had the opportunity to watch any Russian comedies. I didn’t even know there was such a thing ; ) Thanks so much for sharing. I’m going to check this out.
Ha ha. Your comment made me laugh! It’s masterpieces like Anna Karenina and War & Peace that make people think there is nothing but tragedy in Russian cinema and literature. Basically, it’s all Tolstoy’s fault 😉 Trust me, there are plenty of fantastic comedies and romances that don’t end it tears. I might share some of them on the site in the future if people would be interested in that.
Although it’s been a while, the few Russian films I’ve seen were dramas with realistic yet depressing endings. And also perhaps it’s Hollywood’s interpretation of Russia’s literature and culture which is overly dark. I would love to see your list of Russian comedies and romances.
It looks like I’m going to need to get started on that list soon with so many of you yearning to uncover the universal mystery that is the Russian soul 😉
Have you watched The Adventures of Shurik yet? Start with the short film “Strange Impressions” (it starts 30mins into the first film) if you want to jump straight into the romance and then you’ll know whether you want to watch the rest. Links to watch the films are in my review:
Not yet. Did surf a bit and it has such a zany, charlie chaplin kind of feel to it which was interesting. 🙂 But do post your list. It would be interesting to see some comedies as well as romances. Are there any interesting dramas/mini-series? Oh and I enjoyed watching Five Brides. It was cute! 🙂
Most Russian mini-series and dramas are not available with English subtitles. There are some amazing ones and I’ll keep a look out. They may get translated in the future. In the meantime, you can check out the 12-episode historical drama Ekaterina (2014). It tells the story of a German princess who came to 18th Century Russia as a prospective bride and became one of the greatest rulers in the world, namely Catherine, the Great. It’s a dramatized biopic that was a huge hit. They are releasing the second season this year. The first season deals with her rise to power, while in the second she will already be an empress. This would probably be a very appealing watch for people who enjoyed Victoria (2016) and The Crown (2016)
I think this Amazon Prime version is with English subtitles on CC but am not 100% sure:
Or, you can watch it on Youtube with CC subs:
I’m glad you did!