Saturday, March 22, 2014

Barefoot: Movie Review (AKA The Wedding Guest)

Takes the road trip farther than it should, but stays together with charm, wit and great dialogue.

Barefoot, also released as The Wedding Guest, is about (fittingly enough) a barefooted wedding guest. Well, that’s a plot point. As with a lot of indie romantic comedies, it’s about two mis-matched people (or two people not well suited for life in general) who find each other and figure out what love is. Better than that premise, the film has clever lines, funny moments, and great production. 2014

Directed by: Andrew Fleming

Screenplay by: Stephen Zotnowski

Starring: Scott Speedman, Evan Rachel Wood

Jay (Scott Speedman) is our hero. He has little respect for women, less respect for the law, and no regard for rules governing life. He ends up serving as a great protagonist because the rather hilarious dialogue allows this dark start to turn comedic. One woman oblivious to his desperate charms claims that he’s single because he’s an asshole. He knows this. “Well, yeah, but an interesting and fun asshole.” Jay does actually have a heart beneath his sarcastic and irresponsible demeanor, but he just hasn’t met anybody that it’s worth having a heart for.

After the really funny, darkly comedic start, it takes a sudden turn for the dramatic with the introduction of Daisy. Daisy (Evan Rachel Wood) has just been admitted to the psychiatric hospital after her mother has died and she has nobody and no understanding of where she is, what day it is, or of herself. She is as literally naïve as one could possibly be, which lends her an air of innocence whether she is or not.

Jay needs a date to his brother’s wedding, Daisy needs a hero, and a shoeless Daisy follows the reckless Jay out of the hospital and onto a plane to New Orleans. Now we get to meet Jay’s Southern, upper-class family and a subtle clash of cultures – subtle because it’s not so much a clash of cultures as it is a clash of people who value their culture and two people who just don’t have a particular culture of their own.

The dialogue remains good and funny as Jay and Daisy are getting to know each other and we get to know both of them a little bit better than we thought we did. But then comes the ill-advised decision to run. The film goes for the over-used road trip element and takes us farther away from characters that were quite interesting. It’s also the main plot of the film, and as I said, it’s hard to make it good. But by this point, we’ve grown to care about the characters, been entertained by some well written dialogue, and it becomes easier to forgive some of the film’s cheesier choices.

Overall, I was fairly impressed with this independent film. It had high production quality, clever writing in parts (dialogue in particular), some clever edits, and great music. None of this generic indie crap, each song had an identifiable rhythm, and more importantly, identifiable lyrics which directly related to our main characters – Jay and Daisy. I repeated their names as it’s a cute little nod (including some lines in the film to help you get there) to the classic novel “The Great Gatsby”.

These characters will not be anywhere near as legendary as their namesakes; Daisy in particular is a tad too extreme as the sweetly naïve, innocent waif. And the ending takes both of them to locations outside of reality. But because Barefoot is comedy first, it really only matters if it makes you laugh. I laughed a lot at the beginning, less so when it was plot heavy, but the characters that make you laugh the most should be able to keep you hooked.
Best Lesser-known of 2014

Similar Titles:

Ceremony (2010) - The romantic desperation of flawed characters with humour, love and understanding.

The Decoy Bride (2011) - A disheveled romantic comedy featuring predictable romance and stifled laughter.