The Decoy Bride (2012)
(12A) Running time: 89 mins
Director: Sheree Folkson
Writers: Sally Phillips
Starring: Kelly MacDonald, David Tennant, Alice Eve, Federico Castellucio
Reviewed by: David Gillespie, official HCF artist
Although I have never owned up to being a fan of the romantic comedy, it would be foolish to write off how important the genre has been to to the good health of the cinema box office. It should also be noted that the genre has spawned some cinematic classics, including movies such as Bringing Up Baby (1938), Some Like it Hot (1953) , Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Annie Hall (1977) and As Good as it Gets (1997) to name but a few. In most cases, they offer the viewer an alternative to the bleak and cynical tones of reality and replace it with something more upbeat and optimistic. Perhaps something that is at odds with the themes associated with the bulk of the movies that the HCF team review on this website. Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Three Wedding and a Funeral, Love Actually) has been responsible for the recent UK successes with his intelligent and witty screenplays. The Decoy Bride arrives at UK cinemas in Spring 2012 with the writing talents of Sally Phillips from the comedy series, Smack the Pony. Does it have the magic ingredients necessary to woo the viewer?
Famous actress, Lara Tyler (Alice Eve) and writer, James Arber (David Tennant) attempts to organise a private wedding are thwarted at every turn by the paparrazi, especially crazed Marco Ballani (Federico Castellucio). When Lara’s management team led by Steve Korbitz (Michael Urie) and Emma (Sally Phillips) discover a tiny Scottish island called Hegg as a potential location for a private wedding, preperations begin on refurbishing a delapidated castle for the venue. However the paparazzi and locals soon discover the news and Lara flees the scene in frustration when a mass of cameras are once again targetting her. In an act of desperation Steve and James decide that the only way of ridding the island of the press is by staging a mock wedding with a ‘decoy bride’. They decide that local girl, Katie (Kelly MacDonald) is the perfect choice to take on this role. However as James begins to get to know Katie he realises that he may have more in common with her than his future wife to be.
The success of romantic comedies seems to rely on the chemistry of the leads and the quality of the script. Fortunately Phillip’s writing is for the most part right on the money with many an amusing and awkward situation arriving throughout the feature at regular intervals. There are also a fair share of tender and heartwarming moments to counterbalance the slapstick ones.
The master stroke is recruiting the acting talents of David Tennant and Kelly MacDonald for the romantic leads. Both are at the top of their game and have excellent comedy timing. MacDonald is instantly likeable as the down on her luck, Katie who’s character has recently broken up from her long term boyfriend. Her reasons for accepting the offer of decoy bride are more out of boredom than opportunity. Even with the less impressive comedy moments, MacDonald seems to pull off a smile with her natural charm and enthiousiasm. Tennant’s character is perhaps a little less explored yet he does still manage to win the audience over. It would be good to see him get more leading roles as he is arguably one of the most talented of his generation of British actors. All supporting cast do an admirable job with special mention going to Maureen Beattie (Casualty, Taggart etc) who plays Katie’s terminally ill mother. She longs to leave the island and travel the world before her death. She targets the celebrity wedding as something that might be a way of raising enough cash to achieve this.
Much of the filming was split between Dumfries and Galloway and the Isle of Man. The locations prove to be suitable substitutes for the North West Islands in which the tale is supposedly based. The setting is certainly effective and does nothing but enhance the appeal of the project.
As with most romantic comedies, it does not require much thought as to what is going to happen come the final reel. There is also a distict lack of real belly laughs that would have taken the film a gear or so higher. Yet come the credits you will likely be leaving the cinema with a warm heart and a smile on your face. In this day and age, that is not such a bad thing.