A bland romantic comedy in the Richard Curtis style, The Decoy Bride is mainly notable for its proof, if any was needed after Boardwalk Empire, that Kelly Macdonald is a major talent. The actress brings such appealing warmth and humor to the title role that she single-handedly makes the film tolerable. Being given a barely there release stateside and in U.K., it should find an appreciative if largely female audience on cable and home video.
The ludicrous plot involves the impending marriage of British novelist James (David Tennant) to glamorous American movie star Lara (Alice Eve). To dodge the paparazzi, their nuptials are planned for a remote Scottish island. But the press doggedly pursues them even there, so Lara’s PR person (Michael Urie, essentially repeating his Ugly Betty persona) hatches a plan for a decoy wedding to distract. Serving as the mock bride is Katie (Macdonald), desperate for the money and newly returned home to live with her disabled mother after experiencing career and romantic setbacks.
It’s the ultimate “meet cute,” with James and Katie initially and predictably hostile towards each other. But their relationship begins to thaw after he rescues her from drowning — don’t ask — and it isn’t long before they’re, you guessed it, in love.
Although the scenery on display is stunning, director Sheree Folkson —an actress and writer making her feature helming debut — is unable to smooth over the script’s clunky contrivances. Tennant, a superb actor whose range extends from Doctor Who to Hamlet, fails to convey the requisite charm in his big-screen debut as a leading man, and Eve similarly lacks comic flair. But Macdonald — making the best of such lines as “My life flashed before my eyes, and I was bored halfway through” — is so enchanting and funny as the vulnerable heroine that she manages to elevate the proceedings.
Opens: Friday, March 9 (IFC Films)
Production: Isle of Man Films, Cinema NX, Ecosse Films, Scottish Screen
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Alice Eve, David Tennant, Dylan Moran, Michael Urie
Director: Sheree Folkson
Screenplay: Neil Jaworski, Sally Phillips
Producers: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae, Paul Ritchie
Executive producer: Mark Woolley
Editor: Daniel Farrell
Music: Julian Nott
Production designer: Alison Dominitz
Costume designer: Louise Allen
No rating, 89 minutes