Watching schlubby American men spend $3,000 to travel to Mexico in search of wives may sound off-putting, or at the very least, antifeminist. But with Ivan Thompson, a.k.a. the Cowboy Cupid, as their guide, it's positively fascinating. The sexagenarian New Mexican matchmaker is a charming, down-home hoot, even when likening his industry to "the horse business." Director Michle Ohayon, who earned an Oscar nomination for her 1997 documentary Colors Straight Up, doesn't judge Thompson or his clients. She lets them speak for themselves—although their awkward silences are often much more telling.
Three lonely bachelors accompany Thompson South of the Border in search of companionship: Rick, a burly truck driver; 70-year-old Vietnam vet Lee; and James, a toupee-wearing used-car dealer. Although Thompson screens and sweet-talks his clients' prospects, he doesn't always hit the target. During one tense meeting, a disappointed senorita begs him not to leave her alone with her designated guy. In between jobs, Thompson opens up about his own stormy love life, including marrying and divorcing the same Mexican woman twice.
While Cowboy del Amor certainly isn't deep, it's fun in an uncomfortable, reality-TV sort of way. But don't feel too bad for those involved. Both the American men and the Mexican women are dissatisfied with their local romantic prospects, so they enter into what is essentially a business contract. It's capitalism at its finest. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.)—Raven Snook