500_2010A.jpgIvan Thompson is a retired cowboy who earns a marginal living introducing lonely American men to hand-picked, marriage-minded Mexican women. Ivan refers to his line of work as “the woman business” - as opposed to, but in league with, what he used to do, which he calls, “the horse business.” For you see, selling wives is a lot like wrangling horses – both pursuits are dependent on “presentation.” In answering a piece of mail from a woman who disapproves of Thompson’s profession, the self-labelled "Cowboy Cupid" responds that it’s “women like you”  that make the service he provides necessary, and maintains that “as far as buying goes, I’m damn sure you didn’t come for free.”

The above paragraph takes a hard-line second-wave feminist stance on Thompson, broadly denouncing his business as white slavery, and the man himself as a toxic misogynist. This is exactly what Michele Ohayon’s Cowboy Del Amor, which won both Documentary prizes at this year’s SXSW film festival, does not do. It humanizes a man who could have been vilified very easily; it refuses to fall back on the explanations of entry-level ideology, and it’s a better film for it. But Ohayon is a female filmmaker diving into a decidedly twisted gender-political environment; the lack of directorial emotion on display is problematic.
categories Cinematical