Since starting this blog, every Christmas I have to choose a film to watch then write about that the rest of the family will accept watching with me. It would be rude to do otherwise. The choices this year were The Space Between (too arty), The Evil Beneath Loch Ness, starring Patrick Bergen and Lysette Anthony (more of which soon, but basically not arty enough) and then there was the rom/com The Decoy Bride, which for the occasion was deemed just right.
Set on the west coast island of Hegg, it stars two of Scotland’s more pleasing screen presences in David Tennant and Kelly Macdonald as blocked writer ‘James Arber’ and heartbroken local girl ‘Katie’ who has sworn off men. Can you guess what happens next? If not perhaps you should stop reading now as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.
It also features Sally Philips (who co-wrote), Dylan Moran and Maureen Beattie, all good things in my book. Judging by the DVD cover my expectations weren’t high, but it had a better cast than most Richard Curtis movies that it seemed to be aspiring to. It even had the man who played ‘Furio’ in The Sopranos.
This may all seem like I’m about to produce the big ‘but’, and I was expecting that myself. However, maybe it was partly the mulled wine, but it’s not half bad. The story is hardly groundbreaking; ‘boy goes to marry the wrong girl before realising before the credits roll what everyone else knows from five minutes in’, but the way they get there is pleasing enough. Made by Ecosse films in conjunction with Isle of Man Films (where much of it was filmed), it does play to the tourist trade by having castles, waves, rolling fields and babbling brooks, but like Local Hero (an obvious inspiration) it undercuts all of this with a knowing humour that is funnier than I expected.
Alice Eve is ‘Lara Tyler’, Tennant’s intended, and has played this sort of thankless role before in the underrated James McAvoy vehicle Starter for 10. She does what she is asked well as the American actress who is used to getting what she wants, and whose shallow nature is there for all to see, except by ‘James’. But that’s the problem with the film. You know from the beginning that Dave is going to end up with Kelly, just as James McAvoy did with Rebecca Hall’s character in Starter for 10 (there’s two plot spoliers for the price of one). There is no sane person who wouldn’t pick ‘Katie’ over ‘Lara’. You might not feel sympathy for the character but you might for the actress.
There is a subplot about paprazzi and the desire for, and the cost of, fame, but that is to allow numerous chase sequences and Brian Rix style farcical episodes rather than make serious comment. The Decoy Bride is nobody involved finest work, but that says more about the quality of the people rather than the film itself, and Kelly Macdonald proves once more that she can turn her hand to anything successfully. I would happily watch it again, and would rather watch it than most films in the genre, certainly more so than anything staring Hugh Grant, Jennifer Anniston or, more recently, our own Gerard Butler. Here’s the trailer for you, which is the film in under three minutes if you’re pushed for time:
Now, let’s get back to Loch Ness where there’s something moving in the water…