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Docurama presents
Always a Bridesmaid (2000)

"There's a possibility you actually won't get married, and that's not the end of the world. Maybe you should start...considering that. You could still have kids, if that's important to you...You're looking tragically stricken right now."
- sister-in-law, Peggy Davenport

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: December 04, 2001

Stars: Nina Davenport
Other Stars: Nick Kurzon, Edith Reddy, others
Director: Nina Davenport

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:39m:37s
Release Date: August 28, 2001
UPC: 767685948637
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ CB+B+ D+

DVD Review

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." - Aristotle

Nina Davenport appears to fear, with acute anxiety, her impending spinsterhood. The nearing 30-year-old filmmaker is losing objectivity for her subject: she is a professional wedding videographer who believes she is doomed to be what Always a Bridesmaid implies: never a bride. Davenport has decided to share her neuroses with us, and received several grants to do so.

The filmmaker chronicles a year of her life as she seeks to discover why she is not yet married and seems poised over a precipice of solitude instead of a horizon of limitless possibilities... or no—that was my question, sorry. Rather, she explores the looming twilight of her life she seems to envision all-too-clearly, through interviews with clients, friends, family members and a few elderly spinsters who seem to have survived long lives—somehow—on their own. And then there's Nick, her immature boyfriend of 25—

Nina: How do you feel about the prospect of her being your mother-in-law?
Nick: Oh, is that a prospect?

—who still lives at home. But mostly, there's Nina: on camera, behind the camera, asking questions and narrating her interior turmoil.

I approached this film as an educational piece, or a POV or even as performance art. I realized I was not receiving a universal message or a unique "exposé" on marriage or weddings; I felt I was being subjected to the narrow world of a narrow-minded woman with access to the right equipment. Perhaps even more depressing was the realization that, to many women (based on Davenport's sampling), the wedding seems the object of their desire, not the marriage or the relationship or the thought of life the day after, when they would awake to find they are the same person, only married.

If our heroine is disillusioned, consider this wisdom that rises from her team of brilliant advisors:

"The right person, which means, a man interested in a relationship, hasn't come along." - Maya Mundkur, a Maid of Honor

By the time I was 30, I had attended five weddings: two were my father's, the others my sister's—my one sister. I have attended two others since then, none of them my own, by choice. Perhaps I am the one with the skewed perspective, but I saw no humor in her self-induced trauma, felt no sympathy for her angst and experienced little interest in her "dilemma." She is presented here and there with wisdom, which she dismisses out-of-hand:

"There is more to life than getting married." -Mary Kohr, a spinster who married at 90
"You should marry a man. He's still a boy." -Edith Reddy, a spinster nurse (referring to Nick)
"Maybe you should grow up." -Jeff, a "bad date" of Nina's
"Live YOUR life." -Margaret Galloway, 82, never married

For an investment of an hour and 40 minutes, I wanted something tangible from which I could draw my own—or any—conclusion. Was there anything she learned from her experience, from the people she probed, about herself? More importantly, did I learn anything useful or did I just unwittingly sit through someone else's psychiatry session? My only thought was that this film proves its creator to be too narcissistic to form a lasting relationship—was that the point?

In the end, there is Nick, paddling their canoe into every hazard on their voyage downstream, while our backwards-facing heroine absorbs the blows from every limb... and as he seems helpless to master the simple task of diverting their tiny juggernaut from the smallest obstacle or warn her in time to save herself punishment, I could only shake my head and resign them to their fate. Let's just hope love never literally blinds her or she might well end up a spinster on disability.

If Ms. Davenport should decide to focus on her career as a valid alternative to, or in conjunction with, her obsession to marry, I leave her with this—

"In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

—to do with as she will, for better or for worse.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image reflects the low budget, handheld approach taken and the transfer seems to recreate this faithfully. A nice job from Docurama.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a bit soft and uneven in spots, but this seems to be the nature of the source material. The otherwise unremarkable track suits the subject matter of the film.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Docurama provides Always a Bridesmaid with 12 chapter stops and a filmmaker biography.

Additional menu choices include information on Docurama itself and a nice, semi-interactive catalog which includes their trailers for: Dont Look Back, Regret to Inform and The Dancemaker.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

If you find yourself in Nina Davenport's re-dyed shoes, you might seek company for your misery here. If viewing is interactivity for you, you might enjoy the work out Ms. Davenport provides.


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