Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie Notes: The Decoy Bride

My favorite romantic comedies all follow one rule: It wouldn't be terrible to find out you were the hero or heroine.

In other words: the hero and heroine are both good people.

So many romantic comedies rely on the technique of hate-at-first-sight and have the hero and heroine sniping at each other all the way through the first two acts, only to fall for each other at the end, giving into their lust despite their lack of love. You're supposed to believe that these two terrible, terrible people who've been fighting for the past two hours of screen-time are supposed to have a happily-ever-after. I'm sorry: no.

The Good Stuff
But the really brilliant romantic comedies are about good people. Their heroes and heroines are kind and funny and smart and still have enough conflict to drive a three-act structure. This is pretty hard to do and not many screenwriters succeed.

But when they do, it's marvelous.

And yes, it's often done through ridiculous contrivances. The train track accident and coma in While You Were Sleeping. The heart transplant plot in Return to Me.

And the decoy bride plot in, well, The Decoy Bride.

But I'd rather have a ridiculous contrivance and heroes I can root for rather than a commonplace plot and screechy, hateful protagonists. Any day.

Which was why I was delighted to find The Decoy Bride. Perfect hero and heroine? No. But sympathetic and basically decent? Yep. They both grow and change and learn about themselves and each other . . . and none of it is boring because they also have great chemistry and are traipsing around a gorgeous island in the Outer Hebrides following the dictates of a brilliantly ridiculous plot filled with excellent and funny side characters.

I loved it.

And last I checked, it was free on Netflix streaming. My only complaint? Even in a movie set in Scotland they didn't let David Tennant use his native Scottish accent! Such a shame!

But if you're looking for a fun date night movie, queue this one right up. It's lovely.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

ETA: Content warning only for very mild sexuality, i.e., these aren't Christian characters and don't act like it, but they are characters who are careful to abide by the moral framework they do acknowledge. No nudity, but I recommend screening it yourself before showing it to any adolescents - there's at least one scene you might want to fast-forward.


Tienne said...

I just watched this on Netflix the other day and LOVED it! So happy to see your review. My favorite scene was the old couple dancing to the bagpipes David Tenant can't actually play. Totally brought tears to my eyes.

And for once I thought the ending made PERFECT sense! So many of these "leave em at the altar to marry your true love" movies don't hold together precisely because (as you say) they require the protagonist to be either entirely oblivious as to his/her real feelings, or the original spouse-to-be must have some enormous fatal flaw that calls into question WHY the protagonist would be with them at all anyway, OR the "true love" character is fatally flawed and it is never resolved in a way that gives me hope for their future relationship, it's just brushed under the rug because twu wuv conquers all (even though that love is totally unbelievable.)

Yet here we have a movie where you can totally see why things were moving in the direction they were moving, and yet didn't work out, and you are rooting for happiness for ALL the characters. The humor is great, the setting is great, the accents are great.

Agreed on David Tenant, he should have been set loose to be his transcendent Scottish self. I confess, he was the reason why I watched the movie. Netflix was smart to recommend it to me!

Jessica Snell said...

Tienne, "transcendent Scottish self" is such a PERFECT description! I, too, found this movie because David Tennant was in it. :)

And, yes, the ending worked. It worked character-wise and I also love the bit with the "chapter can be a whole book". Such a lovely call-back that actually *made sense*.

Such a good movie. The old couple/bagpipe scene is my favorite, too. Though I love the priest and his observation, "When God made time . . ." ;)

Jessica Thornton said...

I'm totally watching this this week, never heard of it and very excited.

Jessica Snell said...

I hope you like it, Jessica!