out of Five
Running time: 89
Disappointing British romcom that fails to provide either romance or comedy, thanks to a patchy script, some awkward direction and a painful lack of chemistry between the embarrassed-looking leads.
What's it all about?
Directed by Sheree Folkson and co-written by Sally Phillips, The Decoy Bride stars Kelly Macdonald as Katie, the only single girl on the remote Scottish island of Hegg, who's hired as a decoy bride to put the media off the scent when Hollywood actress Lara Tyler (Alice Eve) and novelist James Aber (David Tennant) go there to get married. Needless to say, Katie and James are soon thrown together in excruciatingly engineered circumstances and, what passes for sparks, begin to fly. Meanwhile, Lara goes undercover in old-age make-up (seriously, it's better if you don't ask) to try and find out who leaked their location to besotted paparazzo Marco Ballani (Federico Castelluccio).
The only person to emerge from The Decoy Bride with any real dignity is Kelly Macdonald, whose performance radiates sweetness and sincerity throughout, single-handedly rescuing the film from one star ignominy. Despite the clumsily contrived nonsense going on around her, she remains believable and grounded, although eventually you just start feeling sorry for her because the rest of the film is so awful.
The biggest problem is David Tennant, whose usual onscreen charm and energy both seem to have deserted him, as he looks both panicked and embarrassed whenever he's in shot; as a result, there's zero chemistry between him and either of his co-stars. Similarly, although the script deserves points for not making her character the usual shallow Hollywood cliché, Alice Eve's Lara is painfully underwritten, while her sudden penchant for Mission Impossible-style make-up is as baffling as it is ridiculous.
On top of everything else, the film just isn't funny – there's only one decent sight gag in it, for example (Tennant and Castelluccio pulling swords off the wall during a fight, only to discover they're glued together), while the script happily indulges in all the usual Scottish stereotypes, with “jokes” about kilts, bagpipes and miserliness all present and (in)correct. There are also some jarring narrative missteps, such as the moment when Lara's publicity team rebuild a ruined castle (cue dodgy CGI sequence), which completely flies in the face of the film's supposed respect for Scottish heritage.
Kelly Macdonald gives it her best, but even her generous performance can't save The Decoy Bride from falling flat. If it's remote Scottish island romance you're after, watch Powell and Pressburger's wonderful I Know Where I'm Going instead.