Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Decoy Bride: Movie Review

A disheveled romantic comedy featuring predictable romance and stifled laughter.

A Scottish, independent romantic comedy is hard to come by (at least here in North America). Usually when you find such a movie, it’s really good. Unfortunately, The Decoy Bride isn’t great. The premise of a Hollywood star running away from paparazzi and getting married on a remote Scottish island but with a stand-in bride for disguise has numerous routes to provide both romance and comedy. 2011

Directed by: Sheree Folkson

Screenplay by: Neil Jaworski and Sally Phillips

Starring: David Tennant and Kelly Macdonald

It was romantic enough, but only kind of funny, and certainly not laugh-out-loud funny. The main problems, all very minor, add up to a film that is desperately lacking a dust of perfection that it would require to be able to stand on its own two feet.

The bride, Lara Tyler (Alice Eve), is desperate to find a wedding location for just herself and soul-mate. After reading a novel which describes, in beautiful romantic prose, a remote Scottish island with a castle standing proudly on a hillside, she sends her publicist, agent, and writer husband-to-be to stage her perfect wedding. The problems are this location was a writer’s fantasy and the paparazzi are already on their way there.

The town exists, but it’s filled with typical quirky towns-folk, and worse, the castle is barely standing. The problem for me was that we quickly discover the writer of this location novel is her fiance. He has never denied ever having been to this town and yet nobody questioned that his descriptions might not be accurate. At this point we no longer have a particularly likable protagonist.

One would assume the towns-folk would welcome the bride and her entourage as all the inhabitants and their small businesses are in need of money, instead they take on a local air of snobbery and grunt and complain their way through the movie.

But these are all just minor characters, even the bride herself is a fairly minor character. Our main girl is the decoy bride – Katie (Kelly Macdonald). All the men in her town are married and she hasn’t found her own path in life yet. She gladly accepts the Hollywood proposal to pretend to be a movie star getting married. Of course things don’t go as planned, and we get an only mildly amusing comedy of errors.

However, it is during the comedy of errors where Katie and the husband-to-be James Arber (David Tennant) find themselves locked in a room and on the run together across the Scottish island. These scenes provide the romance and connection based on good acting and great casting. I’m not familiar with David Tennant but he was just so natural as the bumbling, awkward writer that the character was a good fit for this film. I am familiar with Kelly MacDonald. She is the actress who has quietly blown you away in “No Country for Old Men” and “Boardwalk Empire”, but she is unrecognizable here and that’s a good thing.

I would have preferred it much more if the supporting characters weren’t so unpleasant, and if they had made some choices that weren’t quite so predictable. The beginning of the film is structured poorly and has some awkward sequences, but then they stumble right along into a cute romantic comedy. Since great ones are hard to come by, “The Decoy Bride” can fill that void for awhile.