A Foreign Affair

Director: Helmut Schleppi
Screenwriters: Geert Heetebrij

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Jake and Josh Adams (Tim Blake Nelson and David Arquette) are mama's boys toiling away on a dusty farm. But when Ma (Lois Smith) kicks the bucket, they're left to fend for themselves and learn quickly that they can't. Jake decides it's time the brothers got some help around the house, so they pack up Ma's urn and embark on a "romance tour" of St. Petersburg, Russia, in search of a wife or two. As Jake conducts interviews, Josh seeks a mate the old-fashioned way—he hits the nightclubs. When British journalist Angela (Emily Mortimer) puts them in her documentary, all three discover more than they intended about life and love.

By interspersing the narrative with mockumentary footage of the romance tourists, director Helmut Schleppi sends up the selfish and ultimately clueless men who are convinced they can find wives like they might find personal assistants. Through sharp and colorful cinematography, St. Petersburg is painted as a beautifully barren wasteland full of women waiting to be snatched up by American men. And with the funny and touching brotherly dynamic of wildman Arquette and straightman Nelson, whose uneasy masculinity is tempered by Mortimer's self-assured femininity, Schleppi gets to the heart of human relationships: They're all about relating.

— Shan Fowler

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]